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Wind and dry vegetation is a recipe for disaster in California.

By Ken May 

            California Senator Dianne Feinstein stated that California could be in for a severe fire season. Weather events of the recent past seem to support her prediction.

            This past winter, we experienced the heaviest rainfall in years, even more than the vaunted El Nino the previous year. Of course, the rain made plants and trees turn green and grow beautifully but the latest heat wave has dried out much of the vegetation. To make matters worse, six years of drought have killed over 100 million trees in California.

            Dead trees and dried brush feed wildfires while wind, much which is propagated by the fires themselves, spreads the fires at a dangerously rapid rate.

            We’ve been lucky so far compared to Arizona and Utah which is currently fighting a series of infernos but California is set up for the perfect storm of a horrendous fire season.

            What caused the fires in Arizona and Utah? The Brian Head Fire in Utah was started by a man using a weed torch.  The Santa Clarita fire was caused by a car crash that sparked a brush fire which spread rapidly. Other fires were started by discarded matches. Fireworks and camp fires which are not properly doused is a continual concern as well.

            Do you have adequate homeowners insurance to cover loss by fire? What if your house burned to the ground? Will you get enough money from your insurance carrier to rebuild as good as before?Fire billowing smoke in Carlsbad, California

            There are two reasons why the answer is often no. First, people seem to forget that the cost of contractors and building supplies skyrocket once a large fire incident begins. It’s simple supply and demand. There aren’t enough contractors and building materials to account for all of the property damaged during a wildfire so the prices go up because people are willing to pay supreme prices so as not to have to wait for months or even years to rebuild.

            The second reason is inadequate home insurance coverage. Price shoppers want a good deal but end up lacking proper coverage when needed. There are even some bad agents willing to sell cut-rate coverage in order to appear to be the “best deal”. Unfortunately, the amount of insurance falls within a fluid range which can lead to dirty tactics to gain the business. My staff and I certainly don’t want to ever be that person having to face a client who doesn’t have enough insurance to rebuild their home.

            Some common sense things to do to help yourself include trimming trees and brush and make sure that they are not touching your house. You should also have a safe zone between brush and your home (often called defensible space). My house sits on a canyon and I am constantly fighting the homeowner’s association because I don’t feel that there is enough of a safety zone between my house and the foliage behind it. Finally, it is imperative to have adequate insurance remembering that costs go way up when the fires start. Don’t risk not rebuilding your home over a few dollars. 

            If you would like to review your current homeowners policy with a licensed agent in our office please call us at (760) 893-8055 or contact us via email.

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