Insurance Charity Responding to Historic California Wildfires

By | August 7, 2018

The insurance industry is responding to the massive blazes across California in a way that goes beyond merely paying claims.

More than $30,000 has been collected within the last week to help victims of the dozens of wildfires raging across the state by the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation through a new disaster relief fund.

IICF has already granted $20,000 in relief funds to the Shasta Regional Community Foundation, a charitable organization to assist residents of Shasta and Siskiyou counties, and is working to collect more.

This year’s wildfires have reached historic proportions. Twin fires in the Northern California region are being treated as one, and are now considered the largest wildfire in state history, destroying roughly 443 square miles.

A helicopter drops water on a burning hillside during the Ranch Fire in Clearlake Oaks, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Bill Ross, CEO of IICF, said the group decided to create the fund because of the severity of the fires and to let people know that insurance professionals are interested in the welfare of the community, not just selling policies and paying claims.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us an as an industry to have a collective and united response,” Ross said.

If similar efforts from the group last year are any indication, expect significant proceeds to come in for wildfire victims.

IICF last year created a disaster fund to help victims of the Harvey, Irma and Maria hurricanes, and another fund for the California wildfires.

“Collectively we raised, in a couple of weeks, about $650,000,” Ross said.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, also known as the Ranch Fire, has burned 241,772 acres and is 20 percent contained. It has reportedly destroyed 75 residences and another 68 structures and is threatening 11,300 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The Ranch Fire remained active overnight expanding further north and east, continuing to challenge fire crews due to limited access, heavy fuel loads, low fuel moisture, and high temperatures,” Cal Fire’s latest incident report states.

Another massive wildfire, the Carr Fire, has burned 167,113 acres and is 47 percent contained. Cal Fire is reporting 1,077 residences, 22 commercial structures and 500 outbuildings have been destroyed. Another 1,806 structures are being threatened, according to Cal Fire.

Ross views last year’s massive wildfires and those ongoing now as a call for even further involvement from the industry.

“The interesting part of this challenge is that California wildfires seem to become more devastating each year,” he said, adding that stepping forward and helping “allows us to show the generosity of the industry.”

He said the industry is heavily involved with the community, but it doesn’t get a lot of recognition for that.

“This industry is very generous and very involved in the community, but they go about it in a quiet way,” he said.

Those wishing to make a donation to the IICF California Wildfire Disaster Relief Fund can visit the group’s dedicated donation website.

Corporate contributions or employee matching programs can be arranged through Melissa-Anne Duncan, IICF’s Western division director. She can be reached via email at maduncan@iicf.com or by phone (714) 870-1084.

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