Property Insurance News

01/24/2020 10:15 AM
Houston Neighborhood In Blast Zone Of Machine Shop Explosion; Two Deaths Confirmed
A massive explosion at a machine shop ripped through a Houston neighborhood early Friday morning, and police said at least two people were killed and several injured while homes were damaged by the explosion that sent out blast waves detected for miles. “First and foremost, I want to say that we do have confirmed fatalities in this case, at least two confirmed fatalities,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press briefing. Acevedo said police and fire officials will conduct an arson investigation that could take several weeks, but stressed there is no current evidence of foul play. “Having said that, when you have this kind of a type of incident, part of our protocol is to always conduct a criminal investigation,” he added. Aerial video showed the shredded and collapsed wreckage of the Watson Grinding and Manufacturing building smoldering but no longer flaming, along with widespread damage to area homes and businesses from the force of the blast.

01/22/2020 05:45 PM
Wildfire Around The World: A Threat Without Borders
Firefighters in the western United States face a shared struggle with others around the world who battle wildfires as the “seasons” for these events seem to grow longer and more destructive every year. Climate change and human encroachment on wildlands—driven by property development and agriculture—have fostered conditions that increase fire risk in disparate regions, from California, to Australia, to the Amazon rainforest, to Siberia. The United States has experienced record-breaking wildfire seasons over the past few years. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 8 million acres burned in 2018, with nearly 2 million in California alone. Long-term trends continue upward, although 2019 showed a drop to around 4 million acres burned. The BBC reported that, in a crisis that peaked from December 2019 into January 2020, fires through January 10 consumed some 15.6 million acres across Australia, including 8.9 million in New South Wales, where more than 1,800 homes were destroyed. By early January 2020, in Europe’s current wildfire season, 10 of 20 European Union countries already approached or exceeded their 2008–2019 season averages for acreage burned, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.

01/22/2020 01:15 PM
Aon Confirms Huge Number Of Nat Cat Losses Not Insured
Aon has published its latest catastrophe report, which points to a gaping insurance hole for 2019. According to the broking giant’s Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2019 Annual Report released today, last year’s 409 natural catastrophe events equated to $232 billion in economic losses. Of this figure, however, only $71 billion was covered by insurance – be it government-sponsored programmes or coverage from the private sector. What this translates to is a whopping 69% global protection gap in 2019. A faint silver lining is the fact that the percentage of uninsured nat cat economic losses in the period, while significant, is the sixth-lowest since 2000. Aon’s catastrophe report for the past year also identified the top disasters in terms of losses. “At $82 billion, the inland flood peril was the costliest of 2019, and its highest year since 2013,” noted Aon in its annual review.

01/21/2020 01:00 PM
Seven Waikiki Beach Homes Destroyed By Fire Intentionally Set
Two police officers were fatally shot Sunday near a home in Honolulu that appears to have been set on fire, and two women remained missing in the aftermath, authorities said. The fire quickly spread to other homes in the upscale Diamond Head neighborhood, destroying seven houses and damaging several others, Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said. Tiffany Enriquez, a seven-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, and Kaulike Kalama, a five-year veteran, were killed, Police Chief Susan Ballard said. "They were like my kids," Ballard said at a news conference Sunday night. "I knew each one very personally." Ballard said that the suspect, identified as Jerry Hanel, who is in his 60s, is believed to have died in the fire but that investigators had not found his remains. The two missing women had been in the first house, but Ballard did not know whether they lived there.

01/21/2020 12:15 PM
How Global Companies Drive The Home Insurance Crisis In California Wildfire Zones
California enjoyed a comparatively mild wildfire season in 2019, but it wasn’t enough to save Bobbi Pimentel’s homeowners’ insurance policy. Pimentel and her husband, who live in a rural area 30 miles east of Redding, got the dreaded notice in late November: Horace Mann Educators Corp., which has insured their property for 13 years, wouldn’t renew their policy. Pimentel, who’s still looking for new coverage, fears her premiums could triple, costing her thousands of dollars.“I just don’t understand how they can do that,” said Pimentel, 77. “They don’t mind taking our money but they’re not covering anything.” A company spokeswoman wouldn’t discuss Pimentel’s case but said Horace Mann has paid out $157 million in California wildfire claims since 2017. The insurance crisis in California wildfire country is showing few signs of abating. Rural residents are losing coverage, rates are shooting up and experts say the problem defies easy remedies.

01/16/2020 11:15 AM
Building Under Renovation Collapses In Washington, D.C.
One person was injured in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday after a building collapsed without warning just seconds after two passerby cleared the immediate area. The incident occurred just before 1:30 p.m. at Florida Ave. and Staples St. NE in a building that was under renovation, D.C. Fire and EMS wrote on Twitter. The partial collapse was captured on video by a security camera across the street, which showed two people walk by and make it halfway through a crosswalk before bricks began to fall and crumble. A fire truck approached the scene mere seconds later. Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Services Medical Department, tells PEOPLE that an adult female ⁠— one of the two people seen in the video ⁠—⁠ suffered a minor injury, and was transported to the hospital.

01/16/2020 10:30 AM
CEO’s Historic Maryland Home Razed By Fire
A historic Kingsville home owned by a local CEO was brought to the ground Wednesday evening after a fire quickly spread throughout the house, according to the Baltimore County Fire Department. Around 5 p.m., fire crews were called to the home owned by John von Paris of Von Paris Family Moving and Storage in the 11000 block of Franklinville Road in Kingsville for reports of heavy fire showing from the home, fire officials said. Von Paris and his wife owned the home, Maryland property records show. Crews struggled to fight the fire as there were no fire hydrants in the area, fire officials said. A second alarm was sounded and a "Tanker strike team" was requested for more water to fight the fire, fire officials reported. Fire crews battled the fire for hours before extinguishing the flames. The home collapsed and nothing remains besides piles of burned debris, fire officials said.

01/15/2020 11:45 AM
Insurance Crisis In California: Wildfire Risk Underestimated
While the world watches the Australian bushfires ravage the country, it’s not the only region that’s felt the brute force of the fiery catastrophe. The past year may not have been California’s worst wildfire season on record – that title went to 2018 – but still, in late October, fires broke out throughout the state and led to the evacuation of more than 200,000 people as well as a declaration of a state of emergency, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Meanwhile, between January 01 and November 22, 2019, the National Interagency Fire Center reported 46,706 wildfires (compared to 52,080 wildfires over the same period in 2018) and about 4.6 million acres burned, compared to 8.5 million acres the previous year. Some of the reasons for the less intense wildfire season included a reprieve from wind.

01/15/2020 11:15 AM
Water Main Break Floods New York City Parking Garage, Building Basements
The Upper West Side turned into the Under Water Side after a busted water main Monday flooded streets around Lincoln Center, inundating nearby subway tracks and building basements. The flooding began when a city water main erupted between W. 62nd and 63rd Streets along Broadway just before 5 a.m., officials said. The cause of the break will likely be unknown until crews can expose the damaged pipe, Department of Environmental Protection officials said. “The work now is opening up the pavement of the street so that the water main can be exposed and we can go in and make repairs," DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “It’s likely that it will take us a few days to have that work done and the street repaired." Firefighters said pumping water out of basements in the surrounding buildings could also take more than a day.

01/14/2020 11:00 AM
U.S. Flood Risk Model To Be Accessible To Public
A climate research organization will offer access to a risk model that predicts the probability of flooding for homes across the United States, giving the public a look at the data institutional investors use to gauge risk. First Street Foundation on Tuesday launched Flood Lab, a research partnership which provides eight universities with its model that maps previous instances of flooding as well as future risks. Using the dataset, Wharton business school at the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University among others will quantify the impacts of flooding on the U.S. economy. The move could put pressure on prices of homes, municipal bonds and mortgage-backed securities linked to real estate in risk-prone areas, according to Matthew Eby, executive director of research organization First Street Foundation, and other Flood Lab participants. The data will be made available to the public in the first half of 2020 in an online database searchable by home address.