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The Soaring Cost of Fire Insurance

October 26, 1986

The state study on auto insurance rates is welcome news (Westside section, Oct. 19). Now the Insurance Department needs to take a hard look at liability insurance and fire rates for condos and homes in "brush country."

The experience of associations in the Palisades Highlands suggests that something is radically wrong. To have a rate of $7,600 for a condo association with 71 units climb to $75,000 is highway robbery. There is nothing in experience within the Highlands to justify such rates. And when the insurance company insisted on a clearance well beyond the Fire Department limits, which was done at a cost of more than $20,000, what gives?

Queries to the insurance commissioner, who in turn contacted the insurance carrier, almost caused the association to lose its insurance for daring to ask why.

Our legislative representatives say they will act. But when?

If you take the California Fair Plan, the rate is even higher. The reasons are not clear.

If it is because we're in "brush country," and such an area represents an extra high risk, why allow homes to be built in such areas in the first place? But once the city, county and state approve such developments, the authorities have an obligation to ensure that protection is provided at reasonable rates. What is now being quoted is far from that.

Or, housing authorities need to insist on special firebreaks, extra sprinklers on the hills and roofs of homes (ours are all tiled), and if need be, special fire hydrants behind the row of houses that may be in danger.

HYMAN H. HAVES

Chairman, Palisades Highlands

Homeowners Assns.

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