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As we look into the future and the rebuilding of our county begins, we are faced with uncertainty and questions. We have compiled some common insurance questions and tips and hope that these will help throughout the process. If you have any questions, please let us know. We are also hosting three seminars in November on disaster relief and the impact on taxes and your business. For more info or too sign up, please click here.

1. Be pro-active in the claim process and keep good notes.
2. You’re not on a level playing field when you’re dealing with an insurance claim.
3. Don’t pad or exaggerate your claim.
4. Give your insurance company a chance to do the right thing, but don’t mistake a friendly representative for a friend.
5. Document and support your claim with proof, details and estimates.
6. Present clear requests in writing that explain what you need, when you need it, and why you’re entitled to it.
7. Think of your insurance claim as a business negotiation—you’re dealing with a for-profit company.
8. Don’t sign legal documents without consulting with a qualified attorney. There are many local attorneys who are providing free consulting to those who have insurance related questions, including our friends at Friedemann Goldberg LLP.
9. Try to resolve problems informally but complain in writing, go up the chain of command and/or use government agency help when necessary.

You can also visit https://www.insurance.ca.gov/ for additional information.

Below is information provided from the California Department of Insurance.

The information found in the links below provide valuable information that can help prepare you settle your claim and avoid some of the pitfalls that can occur along the way.

http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/WildfireResources.cfm      

http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/upload/2017-CDI-Insurer-Wildfire-Claims_Handling_Reforms_101317.pdf 

TO:  All Property/Casualty Insurance Companies and Other Interested Parties, October 13, 2017

In an effort to assist victims of the recent wildfires, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is calling on all property insurance companies to implement emergency voluntary claims reforms to help victims begin their recovery more quickly.

  1. Additional Living Expenses CALE): Insurers should adopt a standard ALE advance payment of at least 4 months for a total loss, upon request. Additional ALE should be available upon proper proof following the advance period, upon request. Current law imposes no requirement for advance payment of ALE. This practice would recognize the reality that following a total loss in a wildfire disaster, consumers need support
  1. Personal Property (Contents): Insurers should provide a standard contents advance payment of at least 25% of policy limits for a total loss of the primary residence in a wildfire disaster. Additional contents payments should be available upon proper proof and upon
  1. Vehicle Claims: Upon satisfaction of proof of claim, insurance companies should expedite payment of automobile property damage claims under comprehensive loss coverage. The Department of Insurance is not specifying precisely how much these claims should be
  1. Billing: All insurers should grant billing leniency for at least 30 days for customers in designate wildfire disaster areas. Whenever there is widespread wildfire loss, some victims lose their insurance renewal notices or may not have the ability to have mail forwarded. This can result in victims losing their insurance coverage for nonpayment of Many insurers already voluntarily grant payment leniency for wildfire victims. This is not limited to homeowners insurance. A renewal bill for auto insurance, health insurance, or life insurance is as likely to be destroyed as is a bill for homeowners insurance.
  1. Debris Removal: Insurers should cooperate with an expedited debris removal process coordinated through city, county and state agencies, with master debris removal vendor contracts unless the insurer can provide more rapid debris removal outside of the state and local government coordinated effort. Insureds and insurers would not be obligated for more than the reasonable expenses for debris removal. Insurers would assist their insureds in providing policy and payment information to the responsible county in order for the county to fulfill its due diligence requirements. Insurers would not be required to provide any information to the county that would be in conflict with its obligation to protect their insured’s personal information without express permission of their
  1. Inventory Forms: Insurers should agree to accept home inventory software (or paper alternative) currently available to the public by IINC or the CDI (or other reasonable forms), without a requirement of using company­ specific inventory forms. Insurers would not be required to waive their rights to seek additional information upon receipt of an inventory form from an insured.
  1. Inventory Itemization: Insurers should agree to accept reduced itemization of contents in wildfire total losses. In some cases it is appropriate for inventories to allow grouping of categories of personal property, such as allowing a listing of “100 DVDs” instead of requiring a list of specific.

Attached in the link is also a helpful PDF that provides detail on rebuilding questions many are facing: Rebuilding Questions

The following bullets are information provided by Kim and David McDonald from McDonald Leavitt Insurance Agency, and from Mike Robertson and Ken Carr, land services experts from Robertson Engineering and Hogan Land Services respectively.

  • Be It can be a 2-3 year process of rebuilding
  • Keep paying your mortgage payments and insurance premiums
  • Get your claims The line will grow long.
  • Don’t settle with insurance adjusters without getting a 2nd opinion
  • FEMA is for people who do not have other It is a loan program
  • If you need photographs of your home and belongings, go through your camera roll on your phone; contact your lender for a copy of your home’s Your real estate agent may have pictures as well. Write down all that you can remember.
  • If you lost your home and a vehicle, you will need to file 2 separate claims
  • Don’t sift through Get permission, hire a professional.
  • There are many toxins present at burn Wear an N95 mask, use gloves, long sleeves. Car- bon monoxide poisoning can occur.
  • The City of Santa Rosa and County of Sonoma will not charge fees for buliding permits or plan checks. Setback requirements will be waived.
  • Current building codes and Title 24 requirements will apply, including septic systems
  • Expedited permit processes are being Partial damage permits may be available over the counter. Stamped and engineered Plan Sets will get priority. Foundations will need to be inspected first.
  • You can get a temporary occupancy permit for RVs, tiny homes, etc on damaged properties
  • Keep receipts, open separate checking account for post-fire insurance
  • Smoke damage can be covered via Displacement or Loss of Business Income Coverage
  • Contact the Tax Assessor for immediate property tax reductions