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RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info
- To: "'GSBN'" GSBN@...
- Subject: RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info
- From: "Bob Bolles" Bob@...
- Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 18:38:13 -0700
- Reply-to: "GSBN" GSBN@...
- Sender: "GSBN" GSBN@...
<x-charset windows-1251>On 8/26, Joyce Coppinger wrote:
This is a sorry state of affairs! We have several buildings insured by
State Farm at the present time and, in the past, they were my first
referral because they didn't question sb at all. This regional manager
obviously does not know that State Farm's local agents and regional
office has insured straw-bale buildings in the past, even though the
owners did not hide the fact that their buildings were constructed with
straw bales as infill/insulation.
Here's what I received as a reply to my inquiry to our State Farm
regional manager in their regional office here in Lincoln as their
concerns with straw-bale construction: There was a long delay in
replying to my inquiry, and this letter was received only after a
follow-up telephone call to the regional manager.
"There has not been a change in State Farm's underwriting position
regarding straw-bale construction. It is not an acceptable form of
construction and State Farm's intent is to not knowingly insure a
"The company has a number of concerns with straw-bale construction. Some
of our concerns are:
Edited with my comments (Bob)
€ Few jurisdictions have building codes or inspection criteria for
straw-bale buildings. This is a concern because the construction process
may be unregulated and contractors who are unfamiliar with straw-bale
construction requirements may install the utility systems in an
incorrect manner. Proper installation of utilities is critical.
bb - This does not preclude being selective about what conditions that
ANY insurance company would insure ANY type of home.
Specifically, I am concerned about the types of homes in which I am
involved in the construction process. An ALL cases, I am dealing with
legally permitted homes that pass through an extremely extensive
permitting process. After that, no matter who is involved with the
building process, we are inspected by extremely thorough team of
building inspectors. Proper installation of utilities is NO MORE or NO
LESS critical than other aspect of the home.
€ Casual labor is often involved in the construction. It is difficult to
verify that the builders of a straw-bale building were qualified or that
they built the structure correctly.
bb – Obviously I am going to be repeating myself a lot in this response.
No matter who is involved with the building process, we are inspected by
extremely thorough team of building inspectors.
€ There are an insufficient number of straw-bale homes to permit
development of adequate rating, underwriting and loss criteria.
bb – In the State of California, there are at least hundreds of these
homes. If they were really serious and wanted to do the kind of job that
we (should) expect from Insurance companies, that pool alone should
provide far and away more than an adequate number of structures upon
which rating, underwriting and loss criteria could be developed, if they
€ Little is known about the ability to repair or replace damaged
building components. There could be difficulty finding a qualified
contractor to do repair work.
bb – There is a lot known about the construction of these homes – mostly
by the contractors that constructed them.
€ Accurate replacement cost estimates can be difficult to develop.
bb – There is a lot known about the cost of the construction of these
homes – mostly by the contractors that constructed them.
€ The ability to repair or replace damaged building components is
unknown. In addition, there may be few people available to do qualified
repair work in the area where the loss occurs. Either factor could drive
up claim costs substantially.
bb – There is a lot known about construction, the cost of the
construction, the ability to repair or replace damaged building
components of these homes – mostly by the contractors that constructed
€ Straw-bale buildings are susceptible to fire if not properly
protected, additionally, if straw becomes damp, it can spontaneously
combust. We recognize that properly compacted straw bales will not burn
quickly, however, they will smolder for long periods and thus can e
harder to extinguish.
bb – Wood framed buildings are susceptible to fire if not properly
protected. If straw becomes damp, it can NOT spontaneously combust, and
I defy the insurance companies to come up with verifiable proof that
STRAW CAN spontaneously combust. In regards to “We recognize that
properly compacted straw bales will not burn quickly, however, they will
smolder for long periods and thus can e harder to extinguish.” I would
remind the insurance individual that offered this opinion that our
intent is not to make any building totally protected from any force or
situation, but to protect the occupants during the event, and give them
adequate time to evacuate the building. The 2-hour fire rating that we
are able to validate through testing, as well as the ASTM Smoke and
Flame Spread rating is equivalent, if not better than conventional
I will be able to respond more rationally after I get over the initial
irritation at this cop-out idiocy.
Yes, I do agree that it is a better policy to encourage companies that
ARE interested in being supportive of the Green Building than battle
these folks, but they don't even put up a very strong defense of their
Regards to all
Sustainable Building Systems