Thursday, November 23, 2017

Climate Change Will Cause More Disasters in California

The phrase “natural disaster” can be misleading. Disasters such are earthquakes, flood and fires are beyond human control. But that does not mean that humans have not played a role in how frequently these disasters occur and how much damage they cause. The case for and against the effects of climate change will continue to be argued for years, but as California Gov. Jerry Brown said recently "With a warming climate, dry weather and reducing moisture, these kinds of catastrophes have happened and will continue to happen.” In other words, in California, the ground realities of climate change are clear.

The Effects of Climate Change

The increase in the severity and frequency of wildfires in the state is alarming. Experts say that as long as global temperatures continue to rise, the problem will increase. While climate change is not what starts wildfires, the variations in temperature and rainfall that it causes contributes to how these fires develop and spread. In California, weather patterns over the last few years have created an ideal foundation for a devastating fire season which usually reaches full intensity in the month of October. There are 4 key factors involved:

   ·     The high temperature in summer months results in grass, bushes and trees being significantly drier by the time the fire season starts.

  ·     The dry winds from the interiors of the continent enable the fires to spread faster than they did before.

  ·     The higher temperatures also mean that the fire season will last for longer than it did in the  past.

  ·     There is more rain and snow during the winter. This may appear to be a factor that will help prevent fires, but it is not so. The higher precipitation in winter means that more vegetation will grow and grow faster. There will thus be more of it to dry out and burn when the fires start.

Improvement Will Take a Long Time

The Paris Climate Acord, which the U.S. is no longer part of, has set a limit of a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by the year 2100. The amount of drying that such an increase will cause will require a huge amount of precipitation to counteract the drying out and the fire risk that will result. None of the existing scientific models predict such an increase. Till things change for the better, the risk of loss from fires will continue to rise.

The only protection for homeowners against the loss of this biggest investment in their lives and the one on which their family’s future depends is through insurance.Unfortunately, California has a large number of uninsured and under insured homes. The reasons for this are the cost of insurance and a common belief that disasters happen to the “other guy.” Saving a few dollars today may have a small impact on a family’s budget, but the loss of a home can destroy its hopes for the future. Finding the right insurance coverage at a cost that is viable, requires professional expertise. Talking to an insurance broker about home insurance needs will give homeowners the information they need to make insurance decisions that are in their family’s best interests.

Cost of Wildfires

Wildfires are not new to California, and most residents take the risk as a fact of life. What is worrying, however, is the increasing amount of damage and financial losses that these disasters cause. This year the California Department of Insurance has made a preliminary estimate that the insured wildfire losses are in the region of $1.05 billion. This number is based on claims received from the largest insurers in the state and is expected to rise. As of mid-October insurers have received 601 property loss claims, 4177 claims for partial residential losses and 3000 claims for auto losses.

Since the fires began on October 8th, over 250,000 acres have been burnt black, and almost 7,000 structures which includes homes, commercial establishments and wineries, have been destroyed. Over 15,000 people were displaced.

Cost to Families

These numbers are bad and with climate change expected to increase the risk of fire in the future, the dangers will only surge. It makes sense to take steps to protect your home from fire damage and loss, but there is never going to be a 100% certainty that you are safe. A home directly in the path of a wildfire will be destroyed. That is why along with protection it is important to also plan for recovery after major damage or complete loss of your home.

Losing a home is not just a physical and financial loss, it is an emotional one too and with all these factors put together, the devastation that a family will suffer is huge and will affect their lives, and often their futures, for years to come. Nothing can make up for the loss of a home, but having the right insurance coverage will speed the recovery and rebuilding of lives.

Path to Recovery

The federal and state aid that is made available after natural disasters are meant only to help those affected, survive. It is not for recovery and rebuilding lives that requires insurance.That’s what, those who have suffered losses because of the wildfires will be depending on. However, in many cases, the coverage may not be enough to allow complete recovery. If there are savings available, it could help make up the shortfall. But savings are created for a specific purpose and to use those resources to rebuild a home will mean that other important objectives must be sacrificed. If there isn’t enough in the form of savings to make up the insurance coverage shortfall, then what? The family’s future will be damaged and in the worst case, ruined.

Check Your Coverage

Underestimating insurance needs is easy. The value of a home will change over time and so too will the possessions that the family accumulates. What was an adequate coverage a couple of years ago may no longer be so, now. That is why it is essential to regularly review your insurance coverage and ensure that what you have is enough to help your family recover if your home should be lost.

All that it takes is a call to an insurance broker who will be able to review your existing coverage, your actual insurance needs s and then help you to cover the gap, if it should exist.