News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: October 9, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Warns Residents In Recent Fire Zones To Get Prepared For Winter Storms Now; Standard Homeowners Policies Do Not Cover Possible Flood Damage
Poizner Encourages All Californians to Evaluate Their Need for Flood Insurance
In a year when California has faced more than 7,500 fires and hundreds of thousands of acres burned, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner advised all Californians to check their coverage and evaluate their need for flood insurance. Flooding is much more likely after a fire because much of the vegetation that soaks up rain has been destroyed.
"After the smoke has cleared from any wildfire, there is still the potential for catastrophic damage and losses to homes and neighborhoods when winter storms come," said Commissioner Poizner. "Most homeowners policies do not provide coverage for damage that is flood-related. Typically, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to kick in. Therefore, it is essential that homeowners evaluate their individual needs for flood and other supplemental insurance policies as soon as possible. I encourage all Californians to document their possessions before any type of disaster strikes. Suffering the loss of a home or belongings is an extremely stressful experience. Relying solely on your memory to inventory your assets is a mistake that can be easily avoided."
The U.S. Geological Survey warned that in certain areas that were hit hard by the Station Fire, there is an 80% likelihood of debris-flows when storms hit this winter. Some flows could contain up to 100,000 cubic yards of debris. For additional details on the assessment, visit http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1227/.
In California, most standard homeowners' insurance policies do not cover mudslides. Residents are urged to contact their insurers to determine exactly what their current policies will cover and if the purchase of flood insurance is a worthwhile option for them. A flood insurance policy typically takes effect 30 days after it is purchased.
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in response to the rising cost of taxpayer funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood insurance covers building and contents. The cost is determined by several factors, including the region's flood risk, year the structure was built, and type of structure insured (e.g., residential versus commercial, single-family versus multiple-family).
FEMA manages the NFIP, which makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in communities participating in the NFIP. To assess your need for flood insurance, go to www.floodsmart.gov.
INVENTORY YOUR BELONGINGS
A complete household inventory list will provide a permanent record of the home's contents and value, serial numbers listed for electronic items and appliances, and a good indication to the insured of whether current insurance coverage is adequate.
If possible, photograph or videotape household possessions. Pictures are helpful when an item is difficult to describe on paper or if a purchase receipt cannot be obtained. Label each photograph with information about the item. If a camcorder is used, provide commentary of each item and date-stamp on the video.
Store a copy of the inventory in a safe-deposit box, work office or relative's house, and include copies of any important documentation or receipts. The list should be updated semi-annually to ensure an accurate recording of the home's contents. A free home inventory guide is available on the California Department of Insurance website: www.insurance.ca.gov.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.