Q. Why does the Illinois Quad-Cities not have preemption on their stop lights to assist emergency response? -- Chris
A. Rock Island Fire Chief Jeff Yerkey said, "In response to your reader's question, due to budget constraints, the purchase, installation, and ongoing maintenance of a traffic signal preemption system is too cost prohibitive for us at this time."
Follow up file:
The following question was published in Ask the Times on Dec. 13. We received some additional information from other sources.
Q. When devastation hits an area (like out in California with the fires) and many homes are completely leveled, does the state help the insurance companies with restoration or do the insurance companies pay the whole costs or does the state with FEMA help with the rebuilding? – Bob, Davenport
A. Dan M. Molyneaux, Jr., CPCU, ARM, CRIS | Chief Executive Officer, Molyneaux Insurance, said, "According to a 2011 study, more than 97 percent of homeowners have homeowner's insurance. In my experience I think the percentage is a little lower than that. I would have guessed about 90 percent. So the first answer is that it is likely more than 9 out of the 10 homes burned down were paid for by the homeowner's insurer.
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"Another statistic is that 41 percent of homeowners purchase too little insurance to rebuild their home as it is. Again, from my experience, I think the percentage is even higher than that. While many insurers offer what is known as 'guaranteed replacement cost' that would protect against the shortfall, I'd estimate about half will receive something less than the full replacement cost of their home.
"The insurance companies will pay for the vast majority of the property destroyed in the California wildfires and we know that is a multi-billion dollar number.
"So, through our premiums we all pay for those fires. There are lots of factors, but the cost of insurance losses is ultimately born by all of us.
"The current estimates are that property rates across the country (personal, commercial, industrial, etc.) will increase by as much as 5 percent on average this next year. Much of that rate increase is the impact of the California wild fires and other natural disasters which by any measure are on an upward trend. It is a significant and national (actually global) event.
"So the short answer – Insurance companies pay for most of the loss, the homeowners for some and you and me and all of us for the balance."
Chance McElhaney, Iowa Insurance Division communications director and legislative liaison, said, "For any loss incurred, the insurance carrier would provide coverage for damages if it is a covered loss. If there is a significant number of individuals affected (as in a catastrophe situation), the state would compile information and may submit a request to the federal government (FEMA) for assistance."