Solutions sought to FAIR plan
By Kelly Feser Eells
All's FAIR, or becoming FAIR,
in areas that have high risk of wildfires, such as upper Foothill
Road and other neighborhoods in and around Ojai.
That doesn't mean those homeowners feel fairly treated, as many
have had, or will have, their insurance rates raised or even
have their policies canceled. That's when these high fire-risk
homeowners are assigned to the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements
pool, to "provide basic property insurance to property owners
who are unable to obtain it in the normal market," according
to 1968's enabling legislation. The premiums can double, or more.
The Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council is hosting a Community Fire
Safety Fair this Saturday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Pratt
House, 1330 Foothill Road, to explain this situation, which may,
according to a press release, soon involve the entire Ojai Valley.
The event is open to the public, and will include fire safety
education, product demonstrations, and discussion of possible
solutions to the FAIR plan fire insurance rate issue.
"Our objective is to bring these neighborhoods together
to address this issue as a group, rather than as individual
homeowners." said Will Castagna, executive director of the
Fire Safe Council, in a recent press release. "FAIR Plan
rates are costing our communities real dollars in elevated insurance
premiums, without increasing safety - why not combine forces
and use some of those dollars to actually increase safety while
reducing insurance rates?"
Among the many reasons for this situation are a proliferation
of claims for "toxic mold," the state budget crisis,
and more specifically to Ojai, the "oak tree factor."
Bill Moses, who co-founded the Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council
two years ago and serves as its president, said, "It's a
growing problem ... But the good news is, we're trying to do
something as a community."
The Fire Safety Fair will also feature product demonstrations
of fire safety equipment designed to protect homes in the event
of a wildfire, and a presentation by Fire Department experts
on steps homeowners can take to make their homes safer in the
event of fire.
For more information, call Will Castagna at 646-7307.
The Ojai Valley News
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