In the September 30, 2013 edition of the Insurance Journal, Laura Zuckerman published an article titled, “Insurers’ Private Firefighters Give Wealthy Homeowners Extra Protection.”
Apparently what has now occurred, is that certain insurance companies have decided to provide extra firefighting capabilities to their high end homeowners. It is unknown at the present time if this same service will be extended to the more elite businesses insured by the various companies that cater to them, but if the defensive actions for high-end homes works out, you can expect the same for commercial risks.
Ms. Zuckerman reported that during the recent wildfire that burned through Idaho, a Sun Valley homeowner was very impressed when his homeowner’s insurance company sent a fire protection team to take defensive actions against the impending fire. The team consisted of a water-tanker truck and firefighting crew that patrolled his road and kept watch over his home and personal property items.
Three insurance companies are now reported as offering this additional coverage to their more affluent clients; the companies are AIG, Chubb and Fireman’s Fund. The rational for taking the action of providing a private fire department is that it is cheaper to provide fire prevention measures when the home is in danger, as opposed to suffering a multi-million dollar loss to a wildfire.
The range of services extend from clearing trees and brush from around a home to the application of flame-retardant chemicals to the perimeter of a property in the midst of a blaze.
I cannot help but wonder what the impact will be-- if one person’s upscale home is saved due to them having the right insurance company at the right time, while across the street, someone who has the insurance to replace their home but not enough to secure their own private firefighting crew, has to watch their dwelling and personal property go up in flames.
Even in insurance claims, history does repeat itself. In 1751 Benjamin Franklin, and other interested citizens of Philadelphia began the Philadelphia Contributionship (that is not a misspelled word), which was an insurance company that would issue bronze plaques to be placed on the front of the homes to insure firefighting protection. The Contributionship policyholders would not be required to pay a fee for the fire protection as they paid their premium, while the neighbor who was not a member, would be required to pay for the firefighting service if their home burned. The point is the firefighting unit would not let an uninsured home burn. I wonder if that is the same principal these new insurance company firefighting units operate under?