Reducing Our Risk

Organization: 
United Policyholders

Entry Overview

The United Policyholders’ Roadmap to Preparedness program delivers a unique brand of plain-talk consumer-oriented financial guidance and tools to help families make good insurance decisions and be more resilient to disasters.

The unpredictable and costly aspects of climate change are a challenge for all of us and uniquely so for insurance consumers. We are helping consumers adapt as insurers move quickly to limit coverage to protect their profits and shareholders in anticipation of extreme weather events.  UP is closely monitoring the market place and creating new tools and resources to help people contend with these changes and continue to protect their assets in the here and now.

There is no other organization that does what we do:  We use our staff and volunteers’ expertise in insurance plus our deeply held commitment to leveling the playing field for consumers to teach and empower insurance buyers.  Using our tools, tips, and innovative resources, families learn how to protect the assets they are striving to build without wasting money due to misleading sales pitches.

General Info
Amy
Bach
Email : 
Amy@uphelp.org
Organization Address: 
381 Bush Street, 8th Floor
San Francisco, California 94104
United States
Problem
Population Impacted: 
UP served over 230,000 people in 2014.
Hazard: 
Wildfire
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
The likelihood/frequency of natural disasters is increasing due to climate change. The current warming trend is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years. Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters in the last century, nearly double that of the previous century. The U.S. has had an increase number of intense rainfall events. The average annual disaster frequency observed from 2002 to 2011 is 394/year.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
Climate change presents a challenge for all of us and uniquely so for insurance consumers. Insurance companies are leaving segments of the marketplace, raising rates and deductibles and adding exclusions that drastically reduce coverage for water and other forms of property damage. As a result, an increasing number of people are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. Low-income families, ESL, elderly, and those living in coastal and wooded areas are especially at risk.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Insurance benefits are the number one aid that helps people get back on their feet after an adverse event. Households without adequate insurance will lose assets they have worked hard to build. County Emergency Managers and Red Cross personnel confirm that after fires, low-income households with renters insurance tend to rebound while whose without it often end up homeless.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
Most people are not aware of the risks they face or how to reduce those risks, are not properly insured for a flood or other serious or total loss, wrongly assume that FEMA will bail them out, and have incomplete (or no) records of their assets. Many renters incorrectly think their landlord’s insurance will cover them. And, low-income families are vulnerable to being charged higher rates for inferior insurance protection.
Action
Preparedness Goal: 
UP’s preparedness work addresses all major hazards listed above. UP is educating and empowering consumers with innovative tools and resources to make good decisions and solve insurance problems.
Implementing Actions: 

Educate

UP provides plain-talk consumer-oriented financial guidance and tools to help families make good insurance decisions to be resilient to disasters. Our activities include:

  • Workshops based on our “Insurance Assurance: Does Your Safety Net Have Holes?” presentation that includes preparedness activities based on our tools and publications.
  • Publish a new Roadmap to Preparedness Buyers Guide, which include chapters on home, business, health, life, disability, and auto insurance.
  • Promote our free UPHelp home inventory app that provides an easy, fast way to document property and securely store asset records.
  • Distribute our “What’s UP with Renters Insurance?” publication that is available in both English and Spanish. 

Build Community Resources

We provide non-profits with training and access to our resources so they can integrate UP tools into their direct services.

Advocate

We are advocating for measured, balanced solutions that protect the victims of climate change while facilitating sound decision-making and resiliency. While we agree that the cost of insurance should reflect actual risk, and understand the rationale for eliminating subsidized rates for policies on properties in repeat loss and environmentally sensitive areas, people need help adapting.  We don't want people losing homes to foreclosure and becoming homeless because the cost of their insurance suddenly jumps from $800 to $8,000 a year and they can't afford the cost or find a buyer willing to pay the high insurance price tag.  UP advocates for:

  • Regulators need to maintain order in property insurance markets and prevent price gouging
  • Consumers need help contending with affordability, availability, and mitigation financing challenges due to climate change
  • Insurers should be partnering with their customers by providing technical guidance on mitigation, discounts and incentives for risk reduction and reduced emissions 
  • "Green" insurance products that allow property owners to repair and rebuild using sustainable materials and heating/cooling systems
Solution
Describe Your Solution: 

Through our Roadmap to Preparedness program, we are helping individuals and families understand how and why insurance will help them preserve their assets and create a buffer against the economic havoc and displacement that follows a major loss or disaster.  Insurance benefits are the number one aid that helps people get back on their feet after a loss.  UP evaluates our impact and measure our success in:

  • Increasing asset protection for households by helping clients avoid overpriced and unsuitable policies and put genuine coverage in place
  • Increasing economic resiliency through training on creating an inventory and securely storing important documents
  • Broadening UP’s reach into communities through strategic partnerships with CBOs

Our preparedness educational program specifically helps people:

  • Be insurance literate.
  • Make smart insurance buying choices.
  • Buy enough and the right kind of coverage for their individual needs.
  • Learn ways to keep insurance premiums affordable without sacrificing essential protection.
  • Do their own rough calculation of how much insurance to buy for their residence and belongings.
  • Benefit from after-the-fact lessons learned by disaster victims about common gaps in coverage and hidden exclusions.
  • Inventory the contents of their homes and store records off site.
  • Know what steps they can and should take to make their homes more resistant to damage from weather and disaster related events.

There is no other organization that does what we do:  We use our staff and volunteers’ expertise in insurance plus our deeply held commitment to leveling the playing field for consumers to teach and empower consumers.  We fight to strengthen and defend the laws that prevent insurers from putting profits before people. 

Results
Economic?: 

UP’s program increases users’ economic security.  Asset protection is often overlooked with severe consequences. Our education and outreach aim to protect the future of low-income families who are working hard to build assets and can’t afford to have them wiped out by a calamity. Disasters often leave low-income families homeless. Our educational programs are designed to prevent this from happening.

Environmental?: 

UP supports and advocates for "green" insurance products that allow property owners to repair and rebuild using sustainable materials and heating/cooling systems.  We also incorporate materials on how to re-build environmentally friendly into our recovery work/outreach.  

Social?: 

UP builds community resources in coordination with nonprofits and our preparedness and recovery materials incorporate lessons learned by past catastrophic loss survivors. People who’ve experienced a loss or disaster tell compelling stories and are strong ambassadors for disaster preparedness. We have the expertise and flexibility to help families protect the assets they’re striving to build and improve their outcomes after disasters.  We connect survivors with our Disaster Survivor Support Network of trained volunteers who offer a unique combination of experience and empathy. 

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

There are no negative or unintended impacts associated with implementing our Roadmap to Preparedness program. 

Replication/Scale
Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

Our Roadmap to Preparedness is on ongoing program.  In 2014 our total preparedness budget was $95,006.

An example of our scale/cost efficiency: We were awarded a Community Resilience Innovation Challenge grant by FEMA in 2012. During this project (January 2013 - August 2014), UP served a TOTAL of 27,486 individuals and families in the Bay Area, with a cost ratio of $1.27 per person served.  We used this grant improve and target our insurance preparedness outreach and education to Bay Area Seniors, Spanish speakers, and renters.  UP created new publications and tools and distributed them through our website, partners organizations, and at community events.  We developed a media outreach and public service campaign aimed at educating renters on the value of insurance and preparedness in relation to future earthquakes in partnership with the CEA, City of San Francisco, and City of Oakland.  It is estimated that the public service message campaign delivered more than 42 million gross impressions throughout the Bay Area.  UP printed and distributed 1,000 Renters Guides:  500 in English and 500 in Spanish.  Our UPHelp Home Inventory App was downloaded by 299 people.  Our in-person presentations and help reached 6,725 people. 

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

UP offers our Roadmap to Preparedness program across the country.  The main factor needed to provide our services on a broader level is funding.  It is our hope that we will be able to continue our Preparedness services by maintaining a balance of support that includes individuals, corporations, and foundations. 

UP needs to maintain and continue to increase connections with local/national CBOs and elevate our profile in low-income communities through outreach and communication at neighborhood events and forums. 

Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

Contest Partners

Contest Sponsors

SHARE THIS PAGE: