How to reduce home insurance premiums and fire risks

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Homeowners in the United States got it new guide to help them defend themselves against ever more frequent fires and related rising insurance premiums.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit research funded by insurers, announced that it has developed the first-ever standard that can demonstrably reduce the risk of damage from forest fires. To earn the House prepared for fires designation, homeowners must meet a number of criteria, including, for example, cleaning up anything flammable like five-foot shrubs around their homes and passing an annual inspection.

The guide will be especially useful for homeowners in western US states that have been plagued by wildfires. The city of Paradise, California, 90% of which was razed to the ground by the infamous hell of 2018, immediately announced that all new construction would have to meet these standards.

“This is a critical piece of our rebuilding,” said Kevin Phillips, Paradise City Director. “We are doing everything we can to show insurance companies that we are mitigating the risk and that we are a community you want to return to and invest in.”

The state of California already has stringent building codes for new construction in areas known to be prone to fires, but many homes predate these standards and therefore do not comply with them. The steps to meet the IBHS are even more difficult.

For many years the IBHS has been doing research for the insurance industry on how to protect homes and businesses from fires, including by building test homes and setting them on fire in their laboratory. But Roy Wright, the institute’s chief executive, said homeowners across the west have also become hungry for this information in recent years.

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

The IBHS said the designation was based on the latest science and included a list of concrete steps that have been shown to reduce fire risk, such as including and adding fine mesh covers to attic vents or exterior decks. to prevent the spread of embers and replace old cedar tile roofs with non-flammable material.

The widespread adoption of these standards would also be appreciated by the insurance sector. The industry lost 25 years of underwriting profits after the disastrous fire seasons of 2017 and 2018, according to Milliman Inc, a risk assessment firm that works with insurers and pushed for stricter building regulations around the fire. It has also raised rates in fire-prone areas and withdrew completely in some cases.

While there is currently no guarantee that meeting the IBHS standard will result in lower insurance rates, the California Bureau of Insurance’s new draft regulations include language indicating that insurance companies should grant discounts to homes that meet this standard.

It may be expensive and difficult to achieve higher fire standards, particularly for older homes, but Phillips said that for cities like Paradise, where insurance premiums can now exceed $ 6,000 per year, it’s the only way forward. . “Even if it’s a little more expensive,” she said, “the long-term benefit will help make it the most affordable.”

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Photo: Firefighters attempt to secure a home near Santa Claus Drive during the Caldor fire near Meyers, California on Aug.31, 2021 / Bloomberg

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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