Devastating wildfires can start small and spread quickly, spiraling into crisis situations for thousands of Californians. Homeowners tend to believe that fire damage won’t hit their homes or neighborhoods, but unfortunately every home is susceptible to fire.
Of the 20-largest California wildland fires in California, nine have occurred since 1920, causing 31 deaths and destroying 7,857 structures.*
Review Your Homeowners Policy
A review of your homeowners insurance policy is your first line of defense against disaster. Follow these guidelines for peace of mind:
Know your coverage. A typical homeowners policy will cover damage due to wind, lightning and fire (including smoke damage from fire). Find out the benefit limits for structural damage and replacement of contents inside the home.
Plan for the worst. If your home is completely destroyed in a fire, does your policy cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs? If not, you could end up paying the difference.
Guard against inflation. Look for a policy that automatically adjusts the rebuilding costs of your home to reflect changes in construction costs.
Don’t forget the details. Where would you go if your home was uninhabitable for a period of time? Find out if your policy will pay the cost of living elsewhere while your home is repaired or rebuilt.
Get Peace of Mind Today
Don’t wait until you’re a victim to check out your homeowners insurance policy. You can secure the most appropriate coverage for your home and family with regular insurance reviews. Find important information about preparing for a disaster from the California Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov or by calling 1-800-927-HELP.
Protect Your Home
The following safety tips can minimize risk and prevent the spread of fire:
Remove dead trees, leaves and debris; prune trees and shrubs regularly. These materials are fast fuel for a fire.
Safely store flammable liquids such as oils, paints, chemicals and fuel. Keep the containers closed when not in use, and away from your home’s hallways and exits. Consider purchasing a flame-resistant cabinet for storage.
Check out metal roofing options if you live in a fire-prone area. Steel is considered a favorable residential roofing material because it is fire-retardant, long-lasting and cost-effective.
Install smoke detectors and replace the batteries annually.
Plan a fire escape route and designate a safe meeting place. Make sure all family members understand what to do in case of fire.
Organize an evacuation kit containing emergency contact numbers, first aid supplies, bottled water, food, etc. in the home, especially if you live in an area at risk for wildfires. Evacuate the area as soon as you are asked to do so.
An emergency drill should be done with your family and pets to familiarize everyone with how to exit, where to meet, and if the evacuation kit is current. Be sure to update and make the necessary changes.
It's good to shop around for home insurance. CTA’s home insurance program is offered through California Casualty. For a quote or more information, call 1-866-680-5142 , or visit www.calcas.com/cta.
* Source: California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, 11/4/2009.
What if I am the victim of a California Wildfire?
If your home or school site has been damaged by wildfire, an earthquake or other disaster, the CTA Disaster Relief Fund is here to help. The Disaster Relief Fund is a separate, special fund just for members of CTA. The fund is endowed to provide financial assistance to CTA members who have experienced significant losses due to disasters in California. Any CTA Active, Student CTA or CTA/NEA-Retired member in good standing may apply.
Grants are available for CTA members in the form of:
- Standard Grant: CTA members may receive up to $1,500 for significant economic hardship related to damage to their primary residence, displacement or disruption in required utilities.
- Catastrophic Damage Grant: Recipients of the Standard Grant may be eligible for up to another $1,500 if damage exceeds $50,000.
- Temporary Displacement Grant: A grant of up to $500 may be available for members who are displaced from their primary residence as the result of a disaster, but who do not meet the requirements for a Standard Grant.
- School Site Grant: Members may receive up to $500 for damage to their classroom.
For more information, instructions and application forms, please visit the CTA Disaster Relief Resources at http://www.cta.org/About-CTA/CTA-Foundation/Disaster-Relief/index.aspx.