By Lily Leung
Friday, May 6, 2011 at 6:28 p.m.
High pressure over the western part of the U.S. created dry, offshore winds that likely caused brushfires to spread this week in certain parts of San Diego County, including Camp Pendleton and Santee.
The Camp Pendleton incident happened in a remote area but the Santee brushfire came close to homes before firefighters were able to put out the blaze, news partner Channel 10 reported, raising the perennial issue of homeowner's insurance.
Ron R. Reitz, a licensed public insurance adjuster in San Diego, talked with the Union-Tribune for this week's Five on Friday to give people tips on what kind of property insurance to look for and what key questions to ask while shopping for a policy.
Reitz is the past president of the California Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and is an officer on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. He's an expert on hazard claims. (Responses have been paraphrased and edited for clarity.)
Q: What do San Diego homeowners need to know to make sure they have the right insurance for their property and possessions?
A: I often tell people they need to take a look at their insurance policy on a regular basis, especially if they've made any changes or improvements, they need to revisit their coverage. People are always surprised they don't have enough coverage.
Also be sure to tell your agent about any antiques, art, jewelry, collectibles, all those types of things, any collections or valuables. They will be added to a schedule. Check to see if you are covered for building-code upgrades.
Q: What's a common pitfall with property insurance?
A: People immediately ask, 'What's the cheapest?' It's something I wouldn't skimp on - and you have to check what the policies offer.
Q: What are some things condo owners need to know?
A: For condos, there are two different types of policies. One is the association's policy that covers all the common areas of the property. The other one is additional policy that covers the unit and everything inside of it, like the cabinets, wall coverings, drapes, etc. A lot of people mistakenly think that if they're covered through the association policy that it covers everything inside the unit.
Q: What are some things that threaten properties in San Diego, specifically natural disasters?
A: San Diego's biggest threats are fires. Floods naturally occur following fires, which can damage properties. Tsunamis are not very likely but it’s possible. Earthquakes are possible; a lot of people don't feel them when they happen here.
Q: How should a homeowner prepare for the next disaster?
A: Make sure you have some type of plan. Let's say we have a big fire in town...you have to decide where you will go. It's important to have more than one location. I recommend that people take inventory of all of their personal property. A good time is the beginning of the year when you typically get new stuff during the holidays.
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