Rob Galbraith is a Director in the Property and Casualty (P&C) Property Underwriting area at USAA, where his team is responsible for developing and managing USAA’s catastrophe underwriting guidelines for all property lines and perils, including wildfire. Rob has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry in a variety of positions with USAA, Smith Barney, and the Federal Reserve Board. Rob has earned several industry professional designations and is actively involved as part of multiple industry trade groups.
Educating homeowners about wildfire risk and promoting Firewise principles
USAA offers a Firewise discount in 7 states (AZ, CA, CO, NM, OR, TX, UT) and I actively lead our efforts to educate homeowners and the public at the state and local level. Some efforts include serving on the planning committee for the Central Texas Wildfire Symposium in Austin, TX and giving presentations at the Arizona WUI Summit in Flagstaff, AZ and Colorado Wildland Fire Conference in Pueblo, CO. I will also be doing a webinar with the CA Fire Science Consortium in June. I often co-present with local fire prevention officials and experts to community groups and homeowners associations to help deliver a unified message and empower individuals and communities to take proactive steps to protect their lives and homes.
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Coordinating USAA volunteers to assist with fuels projects
In addition to our community education efforts, I help assist in the community by coordinating USAA volunteers to assist with fuels projects and other community mitigation efforts around areas where we have a local employee presence such as Colorado Springs, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Tampa. I have received some terrific feedback from state and local fire officials on how beneficial our efforts are in helping them achieve their project objectives, and our visible presence in the community helps to reinforce our education message to homeowners. I am also partnering on a pilot initiative with our Loss Prevention & Safety team who oversees our Wildfire Response Program offered in collaboration with Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) to offer limited assistance with fuels reduction projects.
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Developing a unified view of wildfire risk
I have been leading efforts to engage a variety of key stakeholders from federal, state, and local agencies as well as private interests such as utilities and academic and non-profits who gather information and attempt to quantify the risk of wildfire in various communities and areas of the country. I believe that by sharing views on wildfire risk we can drive towards a holistic and unified "view of the battlefield" that will help improve collaboration between entities and lead to public/private partnerships where homeowners understand the consensus view of their risk and the need to take proactive steps to mitigate. I also believe that a unified view of wildfire risk can lead to better public policy decisions by land use planners, building and code officials, home developers, and insurance carriers through charging an appropriate insurance premium that is commensurate with the true risk and not subsidized by the rising cost of fire suppression efforts.