Property Insurance Roundtable

Wildfires

03.07.2017

According to the National Park Service, “as many as 90% of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, resulting from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10% are started by natural phenomena, such as lightning or lava.” Regardless of the actual cause, wildfires can be devastating.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that “the 2015 fire season set a new record for the number of acres burned in the U.S. Between January 1st and December 30th there were 68,151 wildfires, which burned 10,125,149 acres according to the National Interagency Fire Center.” Over the 20-year period 1995-2014, fires, including wildfires, accounted for 1.5% of insured catastrophe losses totaling $6 billion dollars, according to the Property Claims Services Unit of ISO.

During today’s discussion, we will explore the important areas of risk management and property insurance that must be addressed, to be prepared for the destruction that can be caused by future wildfires.

Key Takeaways

  • [03:04] What is a wildfire, how do wildfires start, and which areas of the U.S. are impacted the most?
  • [04:13] What is a wildfire hazard zone, and how can policyholders find out if they live in one, and how best to assess their risk?
  • [04:50] Are wildfire insurance claims different from other fire insurance claims? Are the rules and restrictions the same?
  • [05:34] How can a property be compromised if subjected to a wildfire?
  • [06:52] What are things home and business owners can do, to prepare for a disaster such as a wildfire, for easier claims processing?
  • [07:40] Does a standard insurance policy include coverages to assist those affected by an emergency situation?
  • [08:42] What options exist under Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage?
  • [10:26] For renters of apartments, condos, etc., what are their responsibilities, and what are the responsibilities of the building manager, in a wildfire situation? Also, what type of insurance coverage do they need in order to be fully reimbursed?
  • [11:41] What extra coverages should homeowners have added to their policy, in order to mitigate any and all risk?
  • [12:42] What extra coverages should business owners have added to their policy, in order to mitigate any and all risk?
  • [14:16] After a wildfire occurs, contractors are in high demand. How does this affect construction cost?
  • [15:02] What are the biggest hurdles in establishing building valuations post-wildfire? And, what can be done in advance to overcome these hurdles?
  • [16:15] What steps can home and business owners take to help recreate lost personal property?
  • [17:55] Examples of real life wildfire claims.
  • [19:10] What challenges exist when dealing with carriers, due to the volume of claims post-wildfire?
  • [20:10] What about debris removal, county-sponsored authorized companies, and how they affect recovery?
  • [21:48] What actions should a policyholder take, immediately following damage from a wildfire?
  • [23:16] What is meant by ‘rule of thumb’ values, and why some valuations don’t apply in post-disaster environments?
  • [24:26] Who is available to assist policyholders to become familiar with the ins and outs of their insurance policies?
  • [25:57] The panel shares expert advice regarding wildfire insurance claims.
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Panelists

Bruce Tibert is a professional public insurance adjuster with Adjusters International and brings with him a wealth of experience in the public adjusting and insurance fields. Bruce was a claims manager for ten years and owned his own independent adjusting company for 28 years. In those positions, he gained the knowledge and background to stand as a strong advocate for his clients. Bruce ensures that every claims package is complete and accurate before it is submitted to the insurance company.

Bruce majored in architecture while in college and has designed and built custom multimillion-dollar homes. This, along with his experience working in construction during college, gives him a specialized perspective and unique skills to apply to each loss. He is able to identify damage and determine what is necessary to rebuild so that his clients receive all they need in order to regain what was lost.

Bruce is licensed as a public adjuster in five states and has represented many clients. He has represented victims of catastrophic losses, including the victims of the Angora fire near Tahoe, California; the Boles Fire in Weed, California; as well as high profile clients such as Aunt Cynthia Bed & Biscuit Inn (Loomis, CA); Chateau Inn & Suites (South Lake Tahoe, CA); Coachella Valley Rescue Mission (Indio, CA); Datum Precision (Grass Valley, CA); Dos Palos High School (Dos Palos, CA); Harris Farms / Harris Fresh (Coalinga, CA); Izzy’s Pizza (Newport, OR); Jarvis Nichols Building (Mendocino, CA); Koffler Electrical Mechanical Apparatus Repair (San Leandro, CA); Metropolitan Bank (Oakland, CA); Prime Time Sports Bar & Restaurant (Forest Grove, OR); United Methodist Church Of Sheridan (Sheridan, OR); and Windsor Fashions (Roseville, CA & Locations Nationwide).

For ten years — while owning his own company — Bruce provided expert witness testimonies. In addition, he has spoken at conferences and has published articles in Adjusters Magazine on topics of construction defect and insurance losses.

Bruce has been featured as an expert panelist on Adjusters International’s Property Insurance Roundtable podcast in the episode titled, “Wildfires: Filing Property Insurance Claims for One of Nature’s Most Fearsome Foes.”

As Director of Inventory Services at Adjusters International, Jody DuVall assists clients helping with to evaluate contents and create an inventory of all damaged and destroyed property. She is responsible for the pricing, aging and conditioning, and depreciation of every item on her client’s inventory — which often contain as many as 3,000 to 5,000 items. Jody is proficient in both residential and business personal property claims. Prior to joining the team in 2011, she worked as a project manager in the restoration field, which provided her with valuable experience and knowledge that she applies in her current position.

Jody has helped many clients through their recovery in the aftermath of catastrophic events, including victims of the Boles Wildfire and San Bruno PG&E Pipeline Explosion. One particular client she assisted in the San Bruno explosion lost family as well as personal property. Understanding that this was an extremely difficult time, Jody remained patient, compassionate, and empathetic as she and her client worked together to remember all of her family’s lost property.

“As far as I know, Adjusters International is the only public insurance adjusting company in the West with an in-house inventory team. As a senior member of that team, I know firsthand, based on the results we achieve every day, what an added value we bring to our clients lives and businesses,” says Jody.

Jody has been featured as an expert panelist on Adjusters International’s Property Insurance Roundtable podcast in the episode titled, “Wildfires: Filing Property Insurance Claims for One of Nature’s Most Fearsome Foes.”

Kyle Hensiek joined Adjusters International in 2010 as a loss consultant. He advocates for and represents individuals and businesses that have been affected by disaster, acting as the intermediary between policyholders and insurance companies. As a public adjuster, his primary responsibilities include serving as the first point-of-contact with potential clients, determining client-specific recovery goals and assembling and overseeing the team appropriate for each insurance claim, including adjusters, accountants, damage estimators, inventory specialists, agers and conditioners, and forensic accountants.

Kyle is licensed as a public adjuster in nine states across the United States.

Kyle has been featured as an expert panelist on Adjusters International’s Property Insurance Roundtable podcast in the episode titled, “Wildfires: Filing Property Insurance Claims for One of Nature’s Most Fearsome Foes.”

More about Kyle

Todd Thomas v2
C. Todd Thomas
Vice President of Risk Management

Todd Thomas is the Vice President at Adjusters International. He is also the Chief Consultant and Partner of Adjusters International’s affiliate Sigma Consulting Corp. He has worked in the Management Consulting industry for 23 years. Currently, he works with Adjusters International’s strategic partners to offer the highest quality Risk Management and Disaster Recovery consulting services possible. Thomas has worked in a management capacity on high-profile FEMA, insurance and construction projects since 1996. Thomas regularly serves as an expert witness and Special Master to courts in the area of finance & insurance.

Thomas’ experience assisting public entities, non-profits and other organizations with risk management and insurance includes but is not limited to broker selection, insurance marketing, total cost of risk, risk identification, risk allocation, underwriting, claims, financial risk management, FEMA obtain & maintain compliance, risk analysis, risk management information systems and enterprise risk management.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Financial Management (FAAFM), Member of the American Economic Association, Member of the Association of Certified Chartered Economists, a Fellow of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Member of the Global Risk and Insurance Management Institute, Caribbean Actuarial Association and Member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Todd is a Chartered Economist (ChE), Certified Risk Analyst (CRA), Certified Organizational Risk Manager (CORM), RIMS Fellow (RF), Fellow of Risk Management (FRM), Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Risk Management specializing in Public Entities (ARM-P), Master Project Manager (MPM), Accredited Financial Analysis (AFA), Accredited Management Accountant (AMA) and Workers Compensation Claims Law Specialist (WCLS).

Moderator

Marjorie Zeoli Musick
Marjorie Zeoli Musick
Marketing & Public Relations Manager

Marjorie Musick is a writer and marketing/public relations professional who specializes in creating and promoting unique content related to property & casualty insurance topics. Marjorie has helped to manage the firm’s website, social media, email and search engine marketing initiatives. In her current role as Marketing & Public Relations Manager, she assists with the development and execution of marketing communications strategies across multiple digital and traditional channels. Marjorie’s goals are to help simplify the property insurance claims process for policyholders and to raise brand awareness among the insurance and disaster recovery communities. Before joining the AI team, she worked as a writer for Insure.com and as the Director of Communications and Events for the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Marjorie is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication and holds memberships to the Public Relations Society of America, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the Boston University Alumni Association.

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