The holidays are a time for family, food, and fun. A house fire is the last thing on our minds. So, it’s easy to overlook the potential fire risk from common holiday items such as candles, indoor trees, and twinkle lights. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 47,000 fires take place during the holiday season and, tragically, one in thirty-one Christmas tree fires result in death.
California is suffering unprecedented devastation as wildfires spread through both rural and urban communities. Many of our colleagues, clients and business partners in the affected regions are facing evacuations, fear of the unknown and in some cases, loss of property. In the midst of a crisis, it can be hard to know what to do or how to help. We put together a quick list of resources, depending on individual needs.
For up to the minute updates on wildfire progression and evacuation areas, visit Cal Fire’s Incident Information page: http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents
If you are a homeowner and have a home that was lost or damaged as a result of the fire, contact your broker right away.
If you are a business owner and have suffered a loss related to your business, once you and your employees are safe, contact your broker right away.
If you are not currently in an area threatened by fire and are concerned about precautions you can take to protect your own home or business, contact your broker to discuss the best plans and policies to have in place.
With the effects of El Niño in full swing, homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the potential damage flooding can do to a home. Recent news clips feature homeowners standing in their living rooms up to their ankles in muddy water. So, it’s no wonder people are asking me what they need to do to protect themselves from a huge flood loss.
The first thing to note: A typical homeowners policy does not include flood coverage. While they cover water damage from a broken pipe, it does not cover damage caused by “an overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mudflow” (1). Essentially, any flooding from the outside is not covered by homeowners insurance, unless it’s caused by a covered loss, such as wind. The only sure way to safeguard your home from a flood caused by El Niño is to purchase flood insurance.
Successful people often share a common trait: Optimism. I meet with people daily who dreamed the impossible dream, and though there were some bumps along the journey, their unwavering positivity made dreams come true.
I’ve also noticed that when it comes to protecting their hard-earned assets, this eternal optimism can leave them vulnerable. Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society where one personal lawsuit can undo years of hard work and cause significant financial damage to even the wealthiest individuals. Without proper coverage, they can potentially leave themselves unprotected.
How Much of Your Net Worth is Exposed?
One way to assess whether you have enough protection is to consider your net worth. For example, a client has a net worth of $10M, yet their current plan only provides $500,000 underlying liability for their personal home and auto coverage. This leaves $9.5M of their personal net worth exposed.
In a lawsuit, a limit of $500,000 is almost worthless if the claim is over their covered limits. Therefore, it is wise to consider an umbrella/excess liability policy which gives you added protection if you are sued.
- An excess liability policy kicks in when the underlying limits on your home or auto policy have been exhausted.
- An umbrella policy fills in the gaps in coverage.
If you are ever involved in a lawsuit, you need to be prepared. More often than not, people are sued and don’t have extra protection to block the plaintiff from going after personal assets. While it may be difficult to think of a situation where you may not be covered, consider the following real life scenarios.
Traditionally, dry summers and Santa Ana wind conditions have been the recipe for numerous wildfire outbreaks from June to November. After a heavy rainy season, more growth adds fuel to fire conditions. California homeowners need to be particularly diligent in ensuring their home and assets are protected.
As large developments move further East in search of land and privacy, wildfire breakouts pose an exponentially higher threat. These areas are typically less convenient for fire fighters and flammable brush is naturally more abundant. Removing brush to avoid catastrophic loss, however, is simply not enough.