KRQE News 13 quotes Keith Worley in wildfires and insurance article

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Apr 19, 2012

KRQE News 13 recently posted an article about New Mexico's fire season which is fast approaching and expected to be a bad one.

While fire officials are trying to figure out how to best protect people and property, some insurance companies say they might drop coverage for people who chose to live in those high-risk areas.Last year much of the state was ravaged by fires. This year, the risk is high with severe drought conditions and little moisture. It's a risk that's also affecting insurance.

"As we see this increasing wildfire threat move into a dangerous active season, insurance companies really do expect homeowners that live in these higher-risk areas to share that risk," explained Carole Walker, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association .

By sharing the risk, homeowners are urged to learn what their insurance companies require to stay affordable and insured.

Officials say preparing property will help it withstand a wildfire with minimal intervention. It'll also help save the homeowners money.

"It's that pocket-book incentive of getting and keeping affordable insurance that's really going to get people oftentimes to do the right thing and protect their property," Walker said.

While fire officials are preparing themselves for another dry season, Ruidoso Fire Chief Harlan Vincent said he wants the community to be prepared as well. He said there's a new tool to keep everyone on the same page. This year's new emergency notification system is called Call Me Ruidoso , and it's a system designed to be the lifeline for evacuation alerts.

The message fire officials and insurance agencies are sending is for people not just to be aware of risks but also to take action.

"If you're unwilling to make a defensible space, you're living in a high-risk area, you're too high of a risk for us to insure," said Walker.

"It's not going to be a matter of paying higher rates because of no mitigation steps," she said.  "It will affect your ability to get and keep insurance."

Some things homeowners can do to keep their area safe is making sure they thin trees and vegetation on their properties. Another is having clear access for emergency crews.

Keith Worley, advisor for the federal Firewise Communities Program, said their mantra is to keep landscape lean, clean and green. He also said homeowners should keep a Class A roof and a high level of maintenance including cleaning gutters and decks and around foundation.