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GSBN: Digest for 8/26/03



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-> SB Registry Insurance info
     by billc_lists@...
-> RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info
     by "John Swearingen" johns@...
-> Re: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info
     by Joyce Coppinger jc10508@...
-> RE: Insurance
     by Derek Roff derek@...
-> Re: GSBN:RE: Insurance
     by Rene Dalmeijer rened@...
-> RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info
     by "Bob Bolles" Bob@...


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Date: 26 Aug 2003 01:04:45 -0500
From: billc_lists@...
Subject: SB Registry Insurance info

Hi folks,

I'm sad to report that I've temporarily taking the list of insurance 
references from the Straw Bale Registry offline.

It seems that someone used a listed home in the registry as a 
reference in their attempt to get insurance with one of the larger 
home insurers, State Farm.  The referenced home was insured by State 
Farm, and the owners had been completely on the level with them about 
the construction methods - the plans they submitted were even titled 
"Straw Bale Home".

When the new application came in, State Farm took their heads out of 
a certain dark place and decided to *drop* the insurance for the 
referenced home.

Rumor has it that they were also planning on going through the 
Registry and dropping any other bale homes that they insured.  If 
you're currently covered by State Farm, I'd suggest getting your 
ducks in a row to change to another insurer, just in case.

This of course is exactly the opposite effect from what we had 
intended for the Registry.  I'm *quite* disappointed by this 
development.

I'll be going through the code and removing the insurance company 
reference from the individual house listings next.

Should you need insurance information for your area, feel free to 
contact me.  I'll be re-thinking how/whether I'll be allowing anyone 
to retrieve the insurance data in the future, though we'll continue 
to collect it for research and statistical purposes at the very 
least. (suggestions welcome).


For those of you who are new here, the Registry 
(http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com) is an attempt to collect and 
disseminate data about strawbale construction: where and when they've 
been built, by whom, using what construction techniques, who has 
mortgaged and insured them, what problems were encountered, and which 
ones are open to having visitors.

The registry currently lists 933 bale buildings in 19 countries, 
including 255 spread among 41 US states.

If you have built or designed a straw bale building, please consider 
listing it, and please encourage your friends in straw buildings to 
do the same.

- -- 
Bill Christensen
http://sustainablesources.com/contact/

Green Building Professionals Directory: http://directory.sustainablesources.com
Sustainable Building Calendar: http://SustainableSources.com/calendar/
Green Real Estate: http://SustainableSources.com/realestate/
Straw Bale Registry: http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com/
Books/videos/software: http://bookstore.sustainablesources.com/


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 2003 10:50:20 -0500
From: "John Swearingen" johns@...
Subject: RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info

Perhaps a way to handle this might be to identify companies that DO want to
insure strawbale, confirm with them that they are favorable or at least have
no policy that would preclude strawbale (whether or not they currently
insure, knowingly or unknowingly, any strawbale homes), and then list them
on the site.

John Swearingen

- -----Original Message-----
From: GSBN [mailto:GSBN@...]On Behalf Of
billc_lists@...
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 11:05 PM
To: GSBN@...
Subject: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info


Hi folks,

I'm sad to report that I've temporarily taking the list of insurance
references from the Straw Bale Registry offline.

It seems that someone used a listed home in the registry as a
reference in their attempt to get insurance with one of the larger
home insurers, State Farm.  The referenced home was insured by State
Farm, and the owners had been completely on the level with them about
the construction methods - the plans they submitted were even titled
"Straw Bale Home".

When the new application came in, State Farm took their heads out of
a certain dark place and decided to *drop* the insurance for the
referenced home.

Rumor has it that they were also planning on going through the
Registry and dropping any other bale homes that they insured.  If
you're currently covered by State Farm, I'd suggest getting your
ducks in a row to change to another insurer, just in case.

This of course is exactly the opposite effect from what we had
intended for the Registry.  I'm *quite* disappointed by this
development.

I'll be going through the code and removing the insurance company
reference from the individual house listings next.

Should you need insurance information for your area, feel free to
contact me.  I'll be re-thinking how/whether I'll be allowing anyone
to retrieve the insurance data in the future, though we'll continue
to collect it for research and statistical purposes at the very
least. (suggestions welcome).


For those of you who are new here, the Registry
(http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com) is an attempt to collect and
disseminate data about strawbale construction: where and when they've
been built, by whom, using what construction techniques, who has
mortgaged and insured them, what problems were encountered, and which
ones are open to having visitors.

The registry currently lists 933 bale buildings in 19 countries,
including 255 spread among 41 US states.

If you have built or designed a straw bale building, please consider
listing it, and please encourage your friends in straw buildings to
do the same.

- --
Bill Christensen
http://sustainablesources.com/contact/

Green Building Professionals Directory: http://directory.sustainablesources.com
Sustainable Building Calendar: http://SustainableSources.com/calendar/
Green Real Estate: http://SustainableSources.com/realestate/
Straw Bale Registry: http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com/
Books/videos/software: http://bookstore.sustainablesources.com/
- ----
For instructions on joining, leaving, or otherwise using the GSBN list, send
email to GSBN@...HELP in the SUBJECT line.
- ----





----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 2003 11:24:30 -0500
From: Joyce Coppinger jc10508@...
Subject: Re: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info

Bill,

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 straw-bale home.

"The company has a number of concerns with straw-bale construction. Some of
our concerns are: 

A 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.

A 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.

A There are an insufficient number of straw-bale homes to permit development
of adequate rating, underwriting and loss criteria.

A 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.

A Accurate replacement cost estimates can be difficult to develop.

A 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.
 
A 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.

"State Farm monitors construction technology continuously. Should the
factors affecting straw-bale construction become more favorable, we will be
better postured to reevaluate our current position."

I was surprised no mention was made of concerns about mold or mildew, as
that was one of the claim situations (along with natural disasters - floods,
tornadoes, forest fires - which occurred in 2002) that prompted State Farm
to stop writing any type of homeowners insurance for six months (latter part
of 2002 and early into 2003).

Perhaps the GSBN members could work together to provide informed responses
to State Farm and share information that would educate their attorneys,
underwriters and claims adjusters about straw-bale construction.

Joyce

Joyce Coppinger
jc10508@...

on 8/26/03 1:04 AM, billc_lists@...
billc_lists@...:

> Hi folks,
> 
> I'm sad to report that I've temporarily taking the list of insurance
> references from the Straw Bale Registry offline.
> 
> It seems that someone used a listed home in the registry as a
> reference in their attempt to get insurance with one of the larger
> home insurers, State Farm.  The referenced home was insured by State
> Farm, and the owners had been completely on the level with them about
> the construction methods - the plans they submitted were even titled
> "Straw Bale Home".
> 
> When the new application came in, State Farm took their heads out of
> a certain dark place and decided to *drop* the insurance for the
> referenced home.
> 
> Rumor has it that they were also planning on going through the
> Registry and dropping any other bale homes that they insured.  If
> you're currently covered by State Farm, I'd suggest getting your
> ducks in a row to change to another insurer, just in case.
> 
> This of course is exactly the opposite effect from what we had
> intended for the Registry.  I'm *quite* disappointed by this
> development.
> 
> I'll be going through the code and removing the insurance company
> reference from the individual house listings next.
> 
> Should you need insurance information for your area, feel free to
> contact me.  I'll be re-thinking how/whether I'll be allowing anyone
> to retrieve the insurance data in the future, though we'll continue
> to collect it for research and statistical purposes at the very
> least. (suggestions welcome).
> 
> 
> For those of you who are new here, the Registry
> (http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com) is an attempt to collect and
> disseminate data about strawbale construction: where and when they've
> been built, by whom, using what construction techniques, who has
> mortgaged and insured them, what problems were encountered, and which
> ones are open to having visitors.
> 
> The registry currently lists 933 bale buildings in 19 countries,
> including 255 spread among 41 US states.
> 
> If you have built or designed a straw bale building, please consider
> listing it, and please encourage your friends in straw buildings to
> do the same.



----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 2003 15:57:12 -0500
From: Derek Roff derek@...
Subject: RE: Insurance

Bill said:
I'm sad to report that I've temporarily taking the list of insurance 
references from the Straw Bale Registry offline.

Joyce said:
Perhaps the GSBN members could work together to provide informed 
responses
to State Farm and share information that would educate their 
attorneys,
underwriters and claims adjusters about straw-bale construction.

I say:
I have read on multiple sources that most insurance companies are 
canceling policies left and right.  Explanations vary, but there is 
agreement that the goal is to cut the number of policies, not to 
provide consistent, logical or customer oriented service.  If this is 
true, then information and education is unlikely to change the 
policies of companies that are blacklisting SB.  John's suggestion 
(below) seems more promising.

Derek

- --On Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:24 AM -0700 John Swearingen 
johns@... wrote:

> Perhaps a way to handle this might be to identify companies that DO
> want to insure strawbale, confirm with them that they are favorable
> or at least have no policy that would preclude strawbale (whether
> or not they currently insure, knowingly or unknowingly, any
> strawbale homes), and then list them on the site.
>
> John Swearingen

Derek Roff
Language Learning Center, MSC03-2100
Ortega Hall Rm 129, 1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
505/277-7368, fax 505/277-3885
Internet: derek@...


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 2003 16:35:51 -0500
From: Rene Dalmeijer rened@...
Subject: Re: GSBN:RE: Insurance

I would like to second Derek and John's opinion.

The companies that chose to do business with customers who are after 
ecological alternatives are the ones you should support and seek out. In 
the Netherlands and I suppose many other countries, banks and other 
institutions who extend mortages or insurance are continually looking for 
new markets. The nice thing for us is that some of these companies are 
finding out about the growing ecological market as a new potentially low 
risk market. In general people seeking out ecological alternatives are 
caring and careful people and therefore generally low risk paying 
customers. In the Netherlands we now have the case that these institutions 
are now actively seeking us out to participate with us to tap this 
potentially profitable market.

To avoid a blacklisting of SB it is very important not to promote SB as a 
cheap alternative. We 'sell' SB as an alternative to main stream technology 
for the same price but with high insulation and sustainability as a bonus, 
ie you pay the same but get better quality.

At 10:24 PM 8/26/03, you wrote:
>I say:
>I have read on multiple sources that most insurance companies are 
>canceling policies left and right.  Explanations vary, but there is 
>agreement that the goal is to cut the number of policies, not to provide 
>consistent, logical or customer oriented service.  If this is true, then 
>information and education is unlikely to change the policies of companies 
>that are blacklisting SB.  John's suggestion (below) seems more promising.


Rene Dalmeijer



----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 2003 21:02:21 -0500
From: "Bob Bolles" Bob@...
Subject: RE: GSBN:SB Registry Insurance info

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
straw-bale home.

"The company has a number of concerns with straw-bale construction. Some
of our concerns are: 

Edited with my comments (Bob)

=88 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.

=88 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 =96 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.

=88 There are an insufficient number of straw-bale homes to permit
development of adequate rating, underwriting and loss criteria.

bb =96 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
wanted to.

=88 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 =96 There is a lot known about the construction of these homes =96 mostly
by the contractors that constructed them. 

=88 Accurate replacement cost estimates can be difficult to develop.

bb =96 There is a lot known about the cost of the construction of these
homes =96 mostly by the contractors that constructed them. 


=88 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 =96 There is a lot known about construction, the cost of the
construction, the ability  to repair or replace damaged building
components of these  homes =96 mostly by the contractors that constructed
them. 

 
=88 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 =96 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 =93We recognize that
properly compacted straw bales will not burn quickly, however, they will
smolder for long periods and thus can e harder to extinguish.=94 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
wood-frame construction.

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
policy

Regards to all
bb

Bob Bolles
Sustainable Building Systems
Bob@...
www.StrawBaleHouse.com




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