For homeowners in wildfire-prone communities, securing adequate insurance coverage takes education and action
Property insurance is the primary and largest financial safety net for recovering from disaster-caused property damage including wildfires. Roughly 95 percent of homeowners carry homeowners insurance, equating to some 70 million policies in force across the country. When wildfires destroy hundreds, even thousands, of homes, the payout of these policies is key to rebuilding communities and reducing the demand on public funding. As important as insurance is for both individual financial preparedness and community resilience, many Americans are poorly informed about both their own insurance needs and the overall functioning of the insurance marketplace. An estimated two-thirds of American homeowners policyholders are underinsured, typically by 20 percent, and by as much as 60 percent, imperiling their ability to recover in the event of a wildfire disaster. Moreover, as insurers reel from payouts spurred by recent wildfires—such as the $12 billion in insured losses in 2018—residents are increasingly fearful for the fate of their own coverage and rates. Such fears create political pressure for regulators to mandate rates that may not reflect actual risk and thus distort an important signal that could influence mitigation behavior. Insurers and related industries are well aware of all these factors and are actively engaged in reducing community wildfire risk through research, modeling, data analysis, and public education. During the upcoming presentation, “Sticks or Carrots? Insurance Industry Approaches to Wildfire Risk Reduction” Janet Ruiz, Insurance Information Institute; Karen Collins, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA); and Arindam Samanta, Verisk will address these data points, focusing on steps homeowners can take to ensure that their insurance policies will adequately cover them in the event of a wildfire. To be held on March 15, 3:00- 4:00pm EST, this presentation is part of the FREE, full-day wildfire program, “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss” hosted by NFPA. A total of nine sessions are scheduled, addressing a wide range of wildfire issues, challenges, and opportunities. To attend “Sticks or Carrots? Insurance Industry Approaches to Wildfire Risk Reduction,” register for “Outthink Wildfire: Identifying Solutions to End Community Loss.” If you’re unable to join online that day, you will still have access to all the sessions for a full year simply by registering for the event.