Friday, August 03, 2007

Why You Need Defensible Space

Technorati Profile

If an insurance company can find a way out, they will. Here's your "You're in Good Hands with Allstate," and their good buddies, "Like a Good neighbor, State Farm is There." I don't know what the slogan is for Travelers. What excuses will they dream up for not covering your burned down dwelling ? Apparently a Hurricane is strictly a matter of wind damage, and not anything that might be driven by the wind. What sort of excuse will they use for fires ?

"A US federal court has ruled that insurers do not have to pay for the flood damage in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Residential property insurance excludes flood damage, which is covered by a federal programme.

New Orleans residents and Xavier University argued that the insurers should pay because the negligent design of a dam caused the flooding.

The court said the insurers were not liable even if there was negligence.

New Orleans flooded after a dam holding back the Mississippi River was breached in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The flooding cost hundreds of lives and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

The insurers involved in the case were Allstate, Travelers and the mutual insurer State Farm."


Anna Haynes said...

I read somewhere a while back that insurers (in So. Cal at least) are using Google's aerial views to check on the vegetation around homes.

So yeah, I agree that insurance issues will be what ends up getting people to clear around their homes.

Now if insurance cos. would also take into account other fire-preventive construction details, they could go a huge way toward alleviating the wildfires-burning-homes problem. Moral hazard is a biggie here.

SkiTheStars said...

I think the best one can do is to take as many pictures as possible, post them to a common public site, and then send a registered letter to the insurance company asking for suggestions on "improving" your defensible space and referring to the posted photos, and indicating a willingness to send them a copy on CD. Somewhere in your letter cage the obvious question, "is there anything here that is not insurable?" Then, if it ever comes up as a court issue, you can say that you provided them with evidence and asked for comments and directives, and, of course, they will never take the time to follow up, so you should be on good legal grounds to collect on the insurance you've paid for.

The moral issue and in particular the morale issue is interesting.

" I'm insured so I don't have to take care of my property, or whatever it is that I'm insured for..."

I know of a teacher who thought she was insured for 1 million dollars by her Union for all lawsuits brought by parents whatever, for on the job behavior. The fine print was that she was NOT insured for criminal suits beyond $35,000, even if proven innocent. Most cases brought against teachers are criminal, so the Union insurance is worthless in most cases, beyond that first $35,000, and then only if you are given a not guilty verdict.

In short, insurance companies are in business to collect money, and handing it back is not something they want to do at all. It's not in their best interests. The Union still makes a Big Deal about their insurance coverage....

NoRoseColoredGrasses said...

If folks read the amended 1491 Resources Code thanks to Shiela Kuhel who does have ties to the insurance industry for fundraising by the way, the new law gives unlimited power to insurance companies and CDF (now CalFire). I quote from SB 1369 which amended 1491,"The bill would authorize the removal of vegetation not consistent with these and related requirements. The bill would authorize a lien upon the building, structure, or GROUNDS for the expense of the removal of that vegetation as specified."

"This section does not prevent an insurance company that insures an occupied dwelling or occupied structure from requiring the owner of the dwelling or structure to maintain a firebreak of more than 100 feet..."

Here is what I do not understand--the sanctity of private property in this country is what almost sank the endangered species act which in NO WAY threatens private property like these regulations do. I know because I was an endangered species biologist for the USFWS and I implemented sections of the law. What is being declared here is a kind of Marshall Law based solely on PLANTS. PLANTS. Now PLANTS provide shade (reduces fire danger), provide our oxygen (I know, minor) and mitigate CO2 in our atmosphere. Here we have a paradigm that removes PLANTS and these actions will not even lead to a safe home. The home can still burn down. Going after the vegetation is just ridiculous. It's like going after your own skin because it got a rash. You are just going to tear your skin off...because vegetation is the skin of our planet to go after it is not only a collasal waste of tax payers money but ecologically stupid at this point in the game.
Why is this so poorly thought out? Why is this so reactionary on the part of all the fire agencies/groups? Calfire can NEVER make an area "fire safe" by requiring clearing and perhaps even more terrifying are these so-called "biologists" and foresters who claim we are going to return our forests to "pristine conditions" or clearing will mimic pre-fire suppression conditions. These assumptions are so arrogant as to be alarming. We are now God?
And all this will be done with, guess what? YOUR TAX DOLLARS. When they talk like this, who in the hell do you think is going to pay for it but then again, we are building schools in Iraq, what the hell. Wouldn't it be far more sensible to identify ATTAINABLE and MEASUREABLE goals that do not infringe on public property rights and will definitely SAVE HUMAN LIFE AND PROPERTY? What is this?

Calfire starts to doing audits of the safety of the STRUCTURES and provides GRANTS to make these structures more fire safe. Calfire
provides grants for sprinkler systems and barricade products which have been proven to save homes per PBS specials. The penalty for starting a fire with a cigarette right now is a MISDEMEANOR. This is all it is. How about some serious and hard hitting public education about cigarettes and the things that start fires like human carelessness? WHy not stop the placement of homes in fire prone areas? Have you noticed that Calfire as not said a PEEP about this? Getting evacuated by a fire is as dangerous sometimes as a fire itself. Where is the priority for this? Many people who die in a fire die in their cars leaving a fire. Do these agencies understand fire behavior and that it is unpredictable? Driven by wind? You spend $5000 to clear and your house still burns down (then again, it's your money so who cares). Empahsizing protecting the structure, hard-hitting ads, evacuations plans--These are measureable goals with definitive ends and a better use of public monies but no. Better to force YOU to spend thousands to wack down your manzanita and call it good.

And back to my original point--not to mention that soon your little piece of the pie you worked so hard for won't be yours anymore either. You will have to undergo your INSPECTIONS to see if you have any PLANT PROBLEMS.

Think about it because this is coming and once it's here, it will be impossible to stop.