Insurance Insight: Arson is not just an insurance problem

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2002


Each year, arsonists cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, not to mention the toll in human life.

Have you considered that arson is costing you, personally, as well?

Note the following: You pay higher taxes for additional fire and police protection, and for fighting unnecessary fires. Arson removes property from the tax rolls, leaving you with a larger share of the tax burden. You pay higher homeowner insurance premiums because calculations have to factor for arson. Jobs and income are lost when businesses burn.

Fires leave scars on a neighborhood or area that can cause the devaluation of property. Arson may be more prevalent in some places than others, but no area is immune.

Fires are set for a number of reasons – revenge, profit, vandalism, to cover up other crimes – whatever the motive, arson costs everyone. All taxpayers are burdened with the cost of recovery, protection, and prevention measures.

Firefighters, law enforcement officials, the insurance industry, and many other groups are working together to combat those among us, who hurt our society and cause this misery and unnecessary financial burden.

Here are some things you can do:
1. Do not present an invitation to mischief. Secure your property, leave a light on while away, and have someone pick up your mail and newspaper when you are gone.
2. Organize neighborhood watch awareness with those living nearby.
3. If you are in a rural area, subscribe to the services of your volunteer fire department. Your subscription helps provide funds for upgrading of equipment – equipment you could someday need.
4. If you operate a business, make sure you have good burglar and fire alarm systems, and, install good lighting in and around your building.
5. Clear the area around your building of any accumulation of materials that could be used by arsonists.
6. Report any suspicious activity you see to the authorities. (The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a toll-free number at 1-800-TEL-NICB.)
We can make a difference, but we need everyone to be involved. Let’s fight back. It is worth it.

MIKE WILLIAMS is a State Farm insurance agent with an office in LaPlace.