Last fall here in San Diego I smelled the all-too familiar smell of wildfire smoke. I went outside and looked around and didn't see anything pressing, but the smell worried me. I went inside and turned on the radio and TV and didn't see or hear anything about currently burning fires. I went on a couple of news websites including CalFire, but still nothing.Then something made me remember Twitter. Remember the Miracle on the Hudson that was famously first reported by a bystander on Twitter? I went...Read More
A PG&E surveyor who participated in a systemwide survey of pipelines in recent years has accused the utility of delaying repairs on leaks he discovered, including some that could pose a danger to people and property.
PG&E’s pipeline system had been under scrutiny even before the 2010 San Bruno explosion, which killed eight people and destroyed a suburban neighborhood. In 2008, after an internal audit found that leaks were being missed, the utility arranged an accelerated leak survey to address the concerns of employees and regulators.
After writing recently about the predictive modeling now being done by Pitney Bowes Software and Anchor Point Group for the emerging risk of wildfires in this country (and an informative Webinar on the subject), I was amused to see the following headline in the Orange County Register: “Residents worry new fire maps mean higher insurance rates.”
It’s not exactly Jay Leno material, but I’m sure it brought a few smiles to the faces of some insurance underwriters whose job it is to accurately rate risks such as wildfires.
No one wants to see an increase in their homeowners’ rates and insurersdon’t enjoy having to pay for off a claim when a home burns to the ground, but that’s what the world of insurance is all about.
Whether you are downsizing to a smaller home, safeguarding heirlooms after a death in the family or are simply a packrat who has accumulated too much stuff, many find storage units, including portable on demand storage (PODS), offer a useful solution for dealing with extra belongings. In fact, the Self Storage Association notes that one out of every 10 households in the U.S. currently rents some kind of storage unit. While storage units may be the answer to de-cluttering your home, adequate insurance coverage is the answer to protecting items while in storage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
The insurance industry has mixed feelings about California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, assessing him as average or below average in a handful of categories.
In a poll conducted by Insurance Journal, industry respondents gave Jones an overall grade of “D,” although as many respondents to the poll assigned the first-year commissioner a “B” as they did an “F.”
As home insurance premiums skyrocket this year, many insurers are cutting back on what used to be standard coverage.
Damage from wind, hail and sinkholes has been stripped from many basic homeowner policies. Last month, Allstate reduced coverage for roof replacements for new customers in Kansas after doing the same in Oklahoma late last year. The North Carolina Farm Bureau plans to eliminate wind damage coverage for many homes in the state. It follows State Farm, which dropped wind and hail coverage in southern Louisiana last year. "They're just cutting back on the coverage that they offer and raising the premiums so consumers are between a rock and a hard place," says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action, a consumer advocacy group.
Calif. — Good things can spark from bad situations. Monica and Brian Shea's love story is proof.
In 2007, Monica Shea was part of a Salvation Army disaster relief team that responded to the Angora Fire. She set about the community helping people cope with the tragedy.
As she grew close to residents of the burn area, the trauma from the fire began to ease. She soon had to return to her home in Long Beach, but she promised her new friends she'd come back and ski in the area.
With another potentially devastating wildfire season on the horizon, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told Congress on Tuesday that his agency’s diminished and aging fleet of firefighting air tankers is insufficient to combat the nation’s increasingly severe blazes.
Air tankers are a central component of the Forest Service’s firefighting operations, particularly in Inland Southern California, where communities like Lake Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Big Bear are surrounded by rugged terrain and are accessible by only a few roads. But the number of air tankers at the agency’s disposal has fallen from 43 to11 in the last 12 years as airworthiness issues grounded many of the decades-old aircraft.
Even with the breeze blowing, weather conditions were near perfect so U.S. Forest Service firefighters got the green light to begin setting fire to piles of dry brush near the Heaps Peak Fire Suppression Helicopter Base.
“We especially like to plan a burn when we know a storm is coming in,” said Eric Haskins, Heaps Peak Helitack superintendent for the Forest Service.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold Public Participation Hearings regarding the request of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Company to establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account for recovery of wildfire-related costs. Two hearings will be held on April 5 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Al Bahr Shriners Center, 5440 Kearny Mesa Rd., San Diego.
These Public Participation Hearings are scheduled to allow the public to comment on whether the uninsured 2007 fire costs should be included in the Wildfire Expense Balancing Account mechanism. Comments from the public can help the CPUC reach an informed decision, and consumers are encouraged to attend.
San Diego Gas & Electric Co. wants ratepayers ---- and not shareholders ---- to pay for wildfire damages, even if the fire is caused by a criminal act, an attorney working for the California Public Utilities Commission said in a written opinion last month.
Wildfires in 2007 caused by SDG&E's power lines led to judgments and claims against the utility that exceeded its insurance coverage by $500 million, according to the utility's financial records. In 2009, the utility asked the commission to create "Wildfire Expense Balancing Accounts," or WEBA, which would let it automatically bill customers for fire-related costs without review by the commission in most cases.
The city of San Bruno agreed Monday to accept $70 million from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as a settlement for the suffering caused by the September 2010 explosion of a natural gas pipeline in a residential neighborhood.
As part of the deal, a $50 million cap will be placed on a separate PG&E fund that is paying for rebuilding streets and utilities, replanting a burned canyon and other direct costs from the blast, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. The cap had been $70 million.
Howard Wishner, who lost his three-story cedar home in the Fourmile Fire in September 2010, had poured thousands of dollars' worth of upgrades into his house -- appliances, an expanded deck, new carpet.
But the insurance policy he purchased in 2004 never was updated to account for those renovations and didn't keep pace with the escalating value of his home. There's a $175,000 gap between what it costs to rebuild and what his insurance company is covering, Wishner said.
According to the Insurance Information Network of California, more than 88% of homeowners in the state – and more than 90% of businesses – forgo the expense of buying earthquake insurance, saving perhaps $400 to $1,200 a year in annual premiums.
But an insurance network spokesman said that they could be taking a huge risk with their biggest asset – their real estate.