Though summer doesn’t officially begin until late June, in the minds of many Memorial Day weekend always marks the beginning of summer. And summer a very dry Western U.S. means wildfire and this summer wildfires may set records.
Insurers — especially in California — have put out an intense public relations campaign to see if the tide can be stemmed. It’s aimed at homeowners and encourages them to — first — make sure their homeowners policies are adequate and will cover them completely. And second, it urges homeowners to protect their property.
May 2nd was Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, and at an event publicizing wildfire preparedness, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) spokesman Christopher Hackett said a whopping 59% of the policyholders in California have inadequate coverage.
The PCI encourages homeowners to take some important steps. “Holding and participating in fire safety drills is the first step. Physical preparation, such as clearing defensible space around your home, and financial preparation, such as maintaining adequate homeowners insurance are critically important as well,” Hackett said.
The campaign is also very active in the PIA Western Alliance states of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon as well as Colorado.
Drought conditions in those states have reached frightening levels according to U.S. Forest Service head Tom Tidwell. He recently told Congress officials in California — for example — are expecting 1,000 fires with an average of 10,000 acres destroyed per fire.
“We are seeing wildfires in the United States grow to sizes that were unimaginable just 20 to 30 years ago. We expect 2015 to continue the trend above the average activity,” Tidwell said.
How bad is it? Worse than most of us can imagine said Verisk Insurance Solutions. It took a look at satellite data and said very dry conditions exist in much of the west including the aforementioned PIA Western Alliance states of California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon and other PIA Western Alliance states like Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Washington.
Things are so bad in California that Governor Jerry Brown enacted the strictest water rationing in the state’s history. In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee has declared a statewide drought emergency.
Inslee said the 16% drop in snow levels and 78% of streams running below average and extremely dry conditions are threatening crops and fish.
Source links: two from PropertyCasualty360.com — link 1 and link 2