Disaster Zone

Insurance for Disasters — Needed, but Bankrupt

Worst than bankrupt — liquidated.

by Eric Holdeman / December 9, 2018

I just did a round table discussion yesterday for the Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) We covered a number of subjects on disaster resilience, but one I highlighted for them is the need to have adequate insurance. For the Pacific Northwest, that include earthquake insurance that will give ports the benefit of an immediate cash infusion to repair infrastructure damages. One other item I emphasized was having a business continuity plan for the port. 

One of the FEMA Prep Talk topics lately was on the value of insurance, Watch: FEMA PrepTalk on the Importance of Insurance When Disaster Strikes

But then, this is also in the news this week, about the latest casualty of the Camp Fire that destroyed most of Paradise, Calif., is an insurance company, Insurance company goes under after California's most destructive wildfire.

Insurance companies are all about actuarial math to measure the risk of suffering a financial loss. This is what I think is going to happen in the near term. No. 1, the rates for insurance policies are going up for homes in a wildland fire interface zones — likely almost everywhere, but certainly in the West, especially California. Somehow I think they will geocode properties that they insure and adjust their yearly rates. The next step that could follow, if they keep experiencing losses like we saw this year and last in California, they will not offer insurance in every situation, if they think the risks are too great. The alternative is that the premiums will be prohibitively expensive. Just think about landslide insurance. You can buy it, but only from high-risk insurance pools, and it costs a lot!

Unfortunately, for the average homeowner building a new home, they will first buy a piece of property, and then when it comes time to have insurance to build and for the structure — they will get the surprise of a lifetime. 

Claire Rubin, Senior Researcher, shared the FEMA Prep Talk link above.