|By Jim Kalvelage, Ruidoso News, N.M.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"Why should homeowners be interested in protecting their property when it comes to wildfires?" asked
Brenner, who was to have been one of two people to talk about wildfire and insurance matters before the New Mexico Wildland-Urban Interface Summit in
Brenner said the association and
"Through all the mitigation efforts, it's impossible to stop homes from burning," he said. "We know that's going to happen. But waiting for a
fire to occur is too late."
"They don't care about ISO ratings, or the number of stations or how many trucks a fire department has," Worley said. "They want homeowners to participate. Wildfires can put hundreds of homes in danger. That's who insurers understand they need to go beyond the ISO."
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) looks at risk management and in part rates fire departments based on resources available to deal with fires.
Worley said homeowners are beginning to see more and more instances of much higher property insurance premiums or cancellation of coverage.
"If you choose to live in the (wildland-urban interface) environment, we would like you to share that risk," Brenner said. "And really, the way you share that risk is by taking care of your property as a responsible homeowner and managing the land around your home. All insurance companies say 'defensible space.'"
The presentation stated that homeowners who reside in high-risk wildfire areas and decline to mitigate the threat have a more difficult time finding and keeping homeowners insurance.
"We want to insure people who are responsible and a good risk," Brenner said. "Ways that the industry does this, depending on the company, some do it more actively than others, they do inspections. Anytime you write new business, often times agents are out there or companies come out to evaluate that risk. So being prepared and understanding the things that they're looking for will certainly help with that process."
Worley said his home and property was inspected by his insurer. And the inspector was back again a year later.
The recently compiled New Mexico Wildfire and Insurance Guide provides tips on how to mitigate property losses and help keep insurance available.
Brenner said State Farm has signed onto much of the
"Lean, green and clean," Brenner said. "Keeping it lean, thinning out where it's needed. Green, raking up all of those dead leaves and other things around your home. If it's brown, cut it down."
He said State Farm has a lot of online information at www.statefarm.com.
"Or if they're not prepared, as far as the matter of being able to get insurance at all?" Cooke asked.
"Every company is a little bit different," Brenner responded. "There is a rating process that goes on when anyone brings on new business. And some of the factors that go into that are, what is your fire risk? And how close are you to a fire hydrant? What are the surroundings? Where are you located in relation to a hillside slope? Absolutely, those are factors that go into a rating process and may have an affect on rates and overall availability."
Brenner said insurance companies will not pay homeowners to keep their tall grass in check by mowing or to trim trees.
"We're asking homeowners to share that risk. We're saying that as a responsible homeowner, it's important for you, if you'd like to have insurance coverage, or renew your insurance coverage, this is the expectation."
(c)2012 the Ruidoso News (Ruidoso, N.M.)
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