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The dry fall of 2016 in Western North Carolina has seen over a dozen wildfires, with tens of thousands of acres burned.  In years past we have had damaging floods, windstorms and some regular house fires, but few of us ever expect to contend with a wildfire.  This unusual occurrence has caused homeowners to ponder the question of insurance coverage in the event of a wildfire.

Homeowners insurance policies cover damage to a structure from fire that emanates from outside the structure burning in (“wildfire”), the same as it covers a fire starting inside burning out.  But what about other expenses incurred to property affected by wildfire when the flames don’t actually touch the building?  There are a variety of coverages available to respond.

The cost to remove, clean or repair surfaces and contents of houses permeated by smoke, soot, ash or odor is covered by homeowners insurance.  Everything has to be wiped down, the air hydroxylized (washed) and valuables curated. Many items are sent for dry-cleaning, and the exterior of the house is usually pressure washed.

If you have to evacuate, the additional living expenses, such as lodging, food and transportation are covered.  Any looting or vandalism that you may suffer while you are away is also covered.  There is some reimbursement for charges that may be made to you by the fire department.

Trees, shrubs and plants damaged by the wildfire are covered up to certain limits. The cost of debris removal may also be covered, as well as damage caused by water or slurry used to fight the fire.

Wildfires are too easily started in dry fall conditions with leaves on the ground.  The best cure is prevention, with great care given to avoid all burning in prone areas and keeping flames of any type or size away from the area.  Most damage from wildfires is to trees and grounds, but when it invades your property – get out – and your up-to-date homeowners insurance will protect you well.

Jim Stickney, President – Insurance Service of Asheville - jstickney@isa-avl.com

The two major differences between Term and Whole Life Insurance are the premiums (cost) and length of coverage.  Term Insurance is temporary insurance, therefore, much less expensive.  Whole Life Insurance is permanent, therefore more expensive.  Carriers offer an array of various policies to cater to the diverse needs of people and businesses.  The type of policy best suited for an individual depends on one’s needs/goals, age, health, and budget.  


Term insurance is a great way to protect your family while children are growing, until a mortgage is paid off, or to have some sort of coverage while finances may be tight. Most Carriers offer 10-year Term, 15-year Term, 20-year Term, and 30-year Term policies.  This provides death benefit to beneficiary/beneficiaries, should one pass within the Term of the policy.


Whole Life Insurance is a permanent policy and can build cash value.  A permanent Life policy is the ONLY insurance you will ever pay for that you are guaranteed to have a claim.  We all expire at some point.  Whole Life Insurance is a great product for young children!  This is when the premiums are most affordable, and this gives the policy time to build considerable cash value as the young child ages.  Whole Life can be one of the best gifts to give.  Once individuals realize the need for Life Insurance, the premiums can become unaffordable.


Fortunately Carriers have become aware of the need of consumers and created what I consider a hybrid of a Term and Whole Life Policy.  They come with many different names; normally “No-lapse Guarantee” is included somewhere.  This is a permanent policy that does not build cash value.  It offers permanent coverage at a more affordable price.  This is the best product for many consumers between the ages of 20-45. In addition, all Life Insurance Policies offer “Riders” that offer many affordable enhancements to the various policies on the market.  Make sure you ask your agent about these Riders to get the maximum protection for your money!


It is always better to have some coverage than none!  Unfortunately there is no way for any of us to know when we may pass.  It is crucial to protect your family, your business, and everything you’ve worked hard to build.  Many are surprised how affordable Life Insurance can be.  Consumers typically spend more on one night out at a restaurant, their monthly cable bill, or their cell phone bill than they do on Life Insurance.


My team and I are always available and happy to answer any questions you may have about your current coverages or your potential needs! 

Kristi Shrum, Commercial Insurance Specialist - Insurance Service of Asheville, Inc. - kshrum@isa-avl.com

Every employer “needs” Workers Compensation Insurance!  Just like every other line of Insurance, this need is becoming more abundant as a result of our increasingly litigious society.  Insurance is one of those things you do not enjoy paying for and you hope you never need to use.  However, if you do need it, you find it invaluable! 


Accidents can happen anywhere, at any time.  Employers must consider the cost to them to provide potential medical care, surgeries, physical therapy, prescriptions, salaries for an absent worker due to injury, etc. Those concerns are all in addition to any legal defense that may arise in the event of a dispute.


It is also extremely important that Employers are aware that just because they classify an employee as an “independent contractor”, and pay via 1099, the North Carolina Rate Bureau may view this differently.  The NCRB will look at the employer’s control over the worker, and the extent of delegation of duties from the employer to the employee/worker.  I urge all Employers to engage with their Insurance Agents on this matter to be sure they are covered and in compliance. 


Other topics to engage with your Insurance Agent include Professional Liability, Cyber Liability, and Directors and Officers Liability.  As I acquire new clients, I find that many believe they only need General Liability, Property, and Workers Compensation Insurance.  This is a false sense of security.  These additional Liability coverages fill the gaps in General Liability coverage and protect businesses from every angle. 

My team and I are always available and happy to answer any questions you may have about your current coverages or your potential needs! 


Kristi Shrum, Commercial Insurance Specialist - Insurance Service of Asheville, Inc. - kshrum@isa-avl.com

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