There was a time when homeowners insurance used to be mostly referred to as “fire protection insurance,” and the reason is related to the high incidence of accidental fires in residential properties. In 2015, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency reported 1,345,500 dwelling structure fires, and nearly 45,000 were caused by electrical issues related to wiring. With these statistics in mind, it should not be surprising to learn that residential electrical wiring and connections are determining factors in relation to homeowners insurance in San Diego.
Here are some electrical wiring factors that underwriters consider when they write homeowners insurance policies.
Age of the Residential Structure
In the U.S., homes originally built before World War II were likely to feature a wiring system known as “knob and tube” installation, which consists of ceramic anchors, porcelain tubes, and cloth or rubber insulators. The knobs are the anchors, and the tubes guide the wires around the home. However, the inflexibility of ceramic tubing means some of the wiring may have been loosely installed near wooden elements or close to the thermal insulation in the attic. Insurance companies may look at the construction and remodeling history of the residential structure to determine whether knob and tube systems are still present, and they may choose to refuse coverage or charge higher premiums.
Aluminum Wiring Systems
During the Vietnam War, many American electricians installed aluminum wiring systems in new residential structures because copper became an expensive construction material. Although aluminum is an adequate material in terms of conductivity, it degrades and deteriorates faster than copper. Network engineers who design data centers and server farms would never consider housing their powerful computer systems in building structures wired with aluminum, and this has to do with overheating concerns. When the oxidation process of aluminum reaches a certain point, the risk of overheating and electrical fire increases considerably.
Another issue present in knob and tube wiring systems is that they were deficient in terms of grounding. Homes built in humid and rainy regions require good grounding systems, and the same can be said about electrical wiring in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Inadequate grounding may prompt insurance underwriters to increase policy premiums not so much because of a fire risk. The main concern is the high risk of electric shock, which translates into higher liability.
Cloth Wiring Insulation
There was a time when cloth insulation was very popular among electrical contractors and manufacturers of home appliances. Contrary to what many people think, cloth insulation is not a fire risk because this material has strong flame retardant properties. The issue is that cloth degrades over the years, thereby leaving wires exposed and without insulation. The higher premiums associated with cloth insulation may be more expensive than the cost of a wiring upgrade.
If you need to reevaluate your home insurance policy, reach out to American Tri-Star. We also provide reliable and affordable commercial, RV, motorcycle, and car insurance in San Diego. To speak with a friendly agent and receive a free quote, give us a call at 619-272-2100 today.