Drought Fallout: Washington Residents – Are Your Finances Ready for A Wildfire?

Play it Safe with a Wildfire Reality Check

OLYMPIA, Wash. – As Washington residents remember the state’s largest wildfire in history – the Carlton Complex Fire that began a year ago today burning 350,000 acres and destroying 300 homes – the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is urging residents throughout

Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties to take a wildfire reality check and be sure their homes and finances are prepared for wildfire threats in 2015.

PCI is launching its Wildfire Reality Check Preparedness campaign to remind homeowners and renters that now is the time to take the simple steps which will help protect you financially if your home is destroyed or damaged in a wildfire.  Washington and the Pacific Northwest are grappling with an historic “wet drought” where they received normal rain fall but above normal temperatures evaporated the normal snow pack. 
“In last year’s Carlton Complex fires and already this year in the devastating Sleepy Hollow fire, we’ve seen how unpredictable and unforgiving Mother Nature can be – but we can prepare ahead of time for what she may cause,” said Kenton Brine, PCI assistant vice president. “Through the Wildfire Reality Check we want to move homeowners and renters from focusing solely on the need to prepare their property for wildfires, to also thinking about the financial implications. The Wildfire Reality Check asks if you have taken the time to financially prepare for wildfires and provides tips and resources to help you get ready.”
With California, Oregon, Washington and other states struggling with drought, fire officials are battling more fires in harsher conditions. But according to a study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI, only 34 percent of Americans in western states have taken specific action such as creating a disaster response plan, reducing wildfire risk or making a home inventory. While two-thirds of Westerners say they have enough insurance to cover home damage or a total loss in the case of a natural disaster/severe weather event, only 26 percent conduct a yearly insurance review of their insurance policy and limits. Less than half, 42 percent, of Westerners said that they have maintained adequate savings or have cash on and to meet short term expenses that arise following a natural disaster. The study was conducted among over 2,000 U.S. adults in March.
“Now is the time for consumers and businesses to take a Wildfire Reality Check,” said Brine. “One simple but often overlooked wildfire preparedness tool is your smartphone. It can make all the difference in preparing for and responding to wildfires. You can use your phone to download apps from the Red Cross and FEMA that will help you prepare and recover. It can be used as a camera to make a home inventory by recording what you have in each room and your garage. You can even use it as a phone to call your agent or company and do an insurance checkup. Taking time now to financially prepare will make recovery easier and smoother.” 
PCI encourages everyone to take the Wildfire Reality Check Quiz (http://bit.ly/WildfireQuiz) and test their level of preparedness. The PCI Wildfire Headquarters has many resources and tips including the Wildfire Reality Check Infographic (http://bit.ly/PCIWildfireRealityCheck).  
Wildfire Reality Check – Are You Prepared Financially?
  • Do an annual insurance check up with your agent or insurer  
  • Understand your policy – do you have a replacement cost policy up to limits or actual cash value
  • Update your policy after any home improvements
  • If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain coverage 
  • Make sure your policy reflects your home’s correct square footage
Wildfire Reality Check – Is Your Property Prepared?
For more tips check out: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/
  • Create Defensive Space – Clear 30 to 100 feet from home in all directions
  • Remove dead leaves and debris from roof & rain gutters
  • Remove wood piles or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows
  • Trim trees branches a minimum of 10 feet from other threes.  Embers are a major cause of spreading fires
  • Remove vegetation and items that can catch fire under decks.
Survey Methodology:
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI from March 20-24, 2015 among 2,021 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jeffrey Brewer, vice president, public affairs for PCI.
About The Harris Poll
Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.
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PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $190 billion in annual premium, 40 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 46 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 32 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41 percent of the private workers compensation market.

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