Insurance is the Economic Safety Net that Will Rebuild after North Bay Wildfires

Anniversary Reminds Homeowners and Renters to Prepare Finances with Insurance Update and Home Inventory

For immediate release

Insurance Information Institute:
Janet Ruiz

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America:
Nicole Ganley

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Monday, October 8, 2018– On Tuesday it will be one year since the unprecedented North Bay Wildfires erupted, forcing residents to flee their homes in the dark of night to escape the wind-driven flames. As a result of the fires statewide in October and December 2017, property insurers received 45,000 claims and will provide nearly $12 billion to help families, businesses, and communities put their lives back in order. Insurance is the crucial economic safety net that is helping California residents recover and rebuild, says the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I) and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

“Insurers were on the ground from day one and we will continue to stand beside policyholders as they navigate the rebuilding process until the last resident moves into their new home,” said Janet Ruiz, I.I.I. California Representative. “This rebuilding process will likely take longer because of the widespread damage but insurance will finance the recovery for these residents and communities.”

The North Bay Wildfires are now the largest and most destructive wildfires in U.S. history. The damage is more than three times the insured losses paid for after the previous largest wildfire, the 1991 Oakland Hills Wildfires which resulted in $2.7 billion in insured losses.

“Those that lost their homes face many decisions and it can be overwhelming, but insurers are here to guide each policyholder through their recovery process,” said Ruiz. “As these areas rebuild, the insurance industry is partnering with many North Bay community organizations. Insurers are providing grants and support to rebuild affordable housing, help neighborhoods mitigate damage and prepare for future wildfires.”

The six counties with property losses from the North Bay Wildfires are Alameda, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma. Over the past year, insurers have worked with policyholders to finance debris removal, find temporary housing, gather complete construction bids, apply for building permits and either begin construction or move to another home.

“Looking ahead, California residents should rest assured that insurers are committed to California,” said Mark Sektnan, PCI vice president. “We know that wildfire is part of the landscape here. So, while insurers manage their risk and balance their books of business, California’s competitive insurance market ensures that coverage is available in the Golden State. Residents in high-risk wildfire areas may need to shop around for coverage, but there are local brokers who know which companies are writing new business.”

For California residents not impacted by the recent firestorms this anniversary is an important reminder to financially and physically prepare for wildfires. “One crucial lesson from these destructive fires is we need to be active insurance consumers," said Sektnan. “Homeowners insurance should not be something secured when a home is bought and then forgotten about. Every year consumers should call their agent or company and have a conversation. The two most important financial preparation steps we can take are updating our insurance and making a home inventory.”

How to Get Financially Prepared:

Make sure the details of your policy are right and update them each year. Talk to your agent or company to confirm these details are correct in your policy:

  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms & bathrooms
  • Number of windows & doors
  • Type of roof & siding
  • Type of finishes – counter tops, flooring

Demand surge following a major wildfire can increase the cost of materials and labor. Ask your agent or insurer about:

  • Extended replacement cost coverage
  • Building code upgrade coverage
  • Automatic annual adjustments for inflation
  • Do you need a small business or agricultural policy to cover business equipment or farm land?

Make a home inventory and update it annually: 

Use your insurers’ app or software – Keep it in the cloud: 

  • Scan and save receipts for major purchases
  • Document when, where, and how much you paid for each item
  • Use your smartphone to document each room of your home
  • Describe the details of each room on your video, open drawers, closets, include your garage
  • Note special items like jewelry, antiques, high end furnishings, artwork or rare collections

About Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.):  For nearly 60 years, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has been the leading independent source of objective information, insight, analysis and referral on insurance for a wide range of audiences, including: Consumers, insurance professionals, the media, government and regulatory organizations, educational institutions and students. The I.I.I.’s mission is to improve public understanding of insurance—what it does and how it works. The I.I.I. is an industry supported organization, but does not lobby for insurance businesses; instead, our central function is to provide accurate and timely information on insurance subjects.


About Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI):  PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of approximately 1,000 member companies and 340 insurance groups, representing the broadest cross section of home, auto, and business insurers of any national trade association. PCI members represent all sizes, structures, and regions, which protect families, communities, and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe. PCI members write $245 billion in annual premium, which is 38 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance marketplace.

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