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How to reduce home insurance premiums and wildfire risks

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Homeowners in the US have received new guidance to protect against rising wildfire and rising insurance premiums.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a research nonprofit funded by an insurer, has announced that it has developed the first standard, which demonstrates the risk of home wildfire damage. To earn a wildfire-ready home designation, homeowners must meet several criteria – for example, clearing anything that burns like a five-foot shrub around their homes – and pass an annual inspection.

Guidance is especially useful for homeowners in the western US states who are affected by wildfires. The town of Paradise, California, has been demolished by 90% of the infamous 2018 Inferno, promptly announcing that all new builds must meet these standards.

“This is a crucial piece for our reconstruction,” said Kevin Phillips, town manager of Paradise. “We’re doing everything we can to show insurance companies that we’re mitigating against risk and it’s a community where you can come back and invest.”

The state of California already has strict building codes for new construction in fire-prone areas, but many homes are up to these standards and therefore are not in compliance. The steps to visit IBHS are even tougher.

For many years IBHS has done research on how to keep homes and businesses safe from fire for the insurance industry, including building test houses and setting fires in their laboratory. But Roy Wright, the agency’s chief executive, said homeowners around the West have been hungry for this information in recent years.

“The catastrophic events that occurred in California 2017 and 2018 changed the conversation about fire insurance,” he said. “Suddenly, climate change
The parade comes through the front door, and these California families, want to know what they can do.

The IBHS designation is based on the latest science and includes a list of concrete steps that have been proven to reduce fire hazard, such as inserting and adding fine mesh coverings to attic vents or outdoor decks and replacing old roofs with cedar. Shingles with non-combustible material.

The widespread adoption of such standards is appreciated by the insurance industry. According to Milliman Inc., a risk assessment firm working with insurers, the industry lost 25 years of underwriting profits after the devastating 2017 and 2018 fire seasons and is forcing stricter building codes around the fire. It is raising rates in fire-prone areas and in some cases completely stripping out.

While there is currently no guarantee that the IBHS standard will result in a reduction in insurance rates, the new draft regulations of the California Bureau of Insurance include language that requires insurance companies to offer discounts on homes that meet this standard.

It can be expensive and difficult to achieve high fire standards, especially for older homes, but for towns such as Paradise, where insurance premiums are now over $ 6,000 a year, this is the only way forward, Phillips said. “Even if it’s a little more expensive,” he said, “the long-term benefit will help make it more affordable.”

Photo: August 31, 2021 / Firefighters attempt to rescue a house near Santa Claus Drive during a Calder fire near Meyers, California

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