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Do you Have Enough Insurance Coverage?
Unfortunately, many homeowners are realizing that they are under insured when it comes to the actual value of wildfire damages. Typical homeowners insurance policies do not offer 100% coverage for homes that are totally lost in fires. This is especially true if you live in a high-risk area for fire, such as in the canyons. In these areas, comprehensive coverage is an extra cost. In addition, recent catastrophic wildfires in other parts of the state have caused billions of dollars in damages, leaving insurance company dollars spread thin.
The best way to find out whether an insurance company will cover your fire losses is to contact your agent. Call your insurance agent as soon as you realize your home was damaged. The agent will ask you to file a claim with a detailed description and value of your losses. They will investigate and eventually offer you a settlement (ideally) according to the provisions of your policy.
The problem is, many homeowners overestimate just what their policies cover.
Review your policy to know what benefits you should receive after a fire. Most homeowners insurance policies will cover up to a maximum amount of damages from wildfires. Keep all receipts for expenses you incurred during evacuation, such as on food and shelter. Most policies include additional living expense (ALE) coverage for these costs. Renter’s insurance may also provide this type of coverage, even if the fire did not damage your home.
Insurance Company Responsibilities
1. Prompt and thorough investigation of your claim: Your insurance company has to affirmatively
look at the records, get any records they don’t have that may support your claim. An insurance
company in California cannot only consider information that supports their position that there
isn’t sufficient coverage for your claim.
2. Seek evidence of coverage that supports your claim: Every insurance company in California
has an affirmative responsibility to seek evidence of coverage that supports your claim, and
they have to do so in a timely fashion. They have to put your interests on at least as high a
footing as their own.
3. Communicate clearly and honestly about your policy: They are not allowed to be dishonest and
tell you there is no coverage when in fact there is, and they are not allowed to undercut your
claim. Your insurance company also cannot hide behind ambiguous or unclear language in its
policy, and they must not misrepresent facts relating to your claim or the meaning of policy
4. Your insurance company must not make you jump through hoops: They are required by
California law to pay every claim that is covered by a policy, without delay.
5. If your insurance company denies your claim, they must tell you all of their reasons in writing.
6. Your insurance company must not mislead you: They must not unfairly cancel your policy or
refuse to renew it.
7. Pay you the full value of all valid claims: Your insurance company must not force you to file a
lawsuit rather than paying your legitimate, valid claim.
The bottom line is your insurance company works for you! You have most likely paid your insurance premium for many year. They must treat you with respect and view what is in your best interest at least as highly as it views what is in its own best interest.