by Charles Brooks, Executive Director, Rebuild Paradise
As you may remember, the Camp Fire of 2018, took most of our town in less than a day. That experience has led to many of us taking stock in what a rebuild could/should include all while wrestling the realities of how can we be safer and get reasonable insurance living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). We are fighting to come back and several rebuilders have taken the approach that is not mainstream at this time; to research and build with materials that are less common and bring greater fire resistance and safety. One of those products, Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (AAC) we had a chance to see and tour firsthand and it has promising implications for home builders.
Although insurance policies generally pay to replace “like kind and quality” or “equivalent construction”, insurers have shown some flexibility in allowing “green” rebuilds (see, e.g. https://www.uphelp.org/
Given the challenges that many WUI residents are already having keeping their homes insured at an affordable price, rebuilding a fire resistant home may make financial sense. In the near future, insurers are going to have to start giving people a break if they have a wildfire risk reduced home. UP’s WRAP initiative is aimed at making that time come as soon as possible. The WRAP program is bringing together organizations across the state who share this common vision and will continue to put pressure on the insurance industry to recognize the benefits.