Sunday, December 23, 2007

SoCal Wildfires Won't Scorch Insurance Premiums

by Broderick Perkins
© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - There's some good news on the home insurance front.

After disaster hits, you expect homeowners insurance policy rates to rise, but that's not what's happening in California.

Southern California's devastating wildfires damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes. But analysts say there's little if any chance homeowner policy costs will rise.

How's that possible?

Industry preparedness and strong consumer protection laws are sheltering homeowners from higher insurance rates following the Southern California wildfires.

California insurers understand the risk of California wildfires and plan for the danger. Insurers reserve premiums and invest in reinsurance to give them the ability to pay claims after wildfires and other disasters, according to Insurance & Technology, an analyst for the insurance and technology industries.

And credit rater, Moody's Investor Service agrees that the insurance industry's financial stability will remain sound after the claims are paid.

California also enforces strong consumer protection law which forbids insurers from refusing policy renewals after a declared state of emergency.

Insurers are often seen as the bad guys, but Insurance & Technology reports technology helped California's insurers quickly respond in the field to wildfire claims.

After the California wildfires, several insurance companies imposed a freeze on cancellations of policies held by delinquent home owners. Others processed claims for homeowners whose policies had lapsed.

And still another company offered to rebuild some homes according to stronger "green" building code standards -- at no additional costs to the policyholder.

Southern California's wildfires scorched some 500,000 acres, resulting in nearly 23,000 insurance claims -- for auto and commercial policies, as well as homeowners policies.

Some of the losses were devastating. But, for the most part, homeowners suffering losses needn't worry about extra insurance costs.

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© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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