Dealing with Homeowners Insurance During the Kincade Fire?
Our Northern California Attorneys Can Help!
If you’ve lost your home to the Kincade Fire, you may not know where to begin. Fortunately, our firm has experience with local wildfires and can help guide you through the insurance process.
As soon as you find out your home has been compromised by the Kincade Fire, take these 5 steps:
- Get a PO box and begin forwarding your mail
- Open a new email account for correspondence related to the loss of your home
- Order a credit card for purchases made in conjunction with your loss
- Begin filing all receipts for additional living expenses (ALE)
- Purchase 2 notebooks to record insurance communications, and all other details
For more about each of these steps, and the explanation behind them, click here.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy
The first step to understanding your insurance policy is to work through it with an agent or representative from your insurance company. Make sure you have a complete copy of your entire insurance policy after the fire and pay special attention to the declarations page. Your insurance company must provide these documents to you, free of cost, within 30 days of your request.
Your adjuster should also explain how much coverage you have to:
- Rebuild your home
- Replace personal belongings
- Meet basic living expenses
Record what your representative has to say in a “claims diary,” which will fill one of the notebooks mentioned at the top of this page. All conversations with insurance agents should be recorded in this diary.
Declaration Page 101
In the previous section, we mentioned the importance of the declaration page or “dec page.” This is a summary of what your homeowner’s policy covers and the maximum amount your insurance company will pay-out in the event of a loss. Typically, the dec page is divided into 4 alphanumerical coverage categories. Coverage A, for example, may address your primary dwelling.
For a full explanation of your declaration page and its categories, check out our visual aid and definitions.
About ALE Expenses
Additional living expenses may be reimbursed if you are impacted in any way by the Kincade Fire.
If you are evacuated, these benefits may be available even if your home is not damaged or destroyed and can cover the costs of:
- Furniture Rental
- Extra transportation
If you do lose your home, you will likely incur the above costs, and many other ALE expenses while you are rebuilding. Keep track of these expenditures, file all receipts, and collect within 24 months.
Who You Should Be Speaking To
When your home is damaged or destroyed by wildfires, there are 6 people you should notify.
- Your homeowners insurance company – Find your provider’s phone number here.
- Your mortgage holder – If you do not know who your mortgage holder is, or you need their phone number, call the Butte County Recorder at (530) 538-7691.
- Your bank and credit card issuers – Contact your bank via the phone number on the back of your cards, or use their website or mobile app. Some financial institutions have priority assistance programs for those affected by wildfires.
- Your utility providers – With all the expenses of evacuating and rebuilding, you will not want to be paying bills for a property that no longer exists. You may be able to find your gas and electric providers with this interactive map.
- Financial professionals in your county – Call the Sonoma County Tax Collector at (707) 565-2281, the Sonoma County Assessor at (707) 565-1888, and the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters at (707) 565-6800.
- Your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) – The DMV can help you change your address, replace any lost documents, and cancel ownership of vehicles that may have been destroyed in the fire. They can be reached at 1-800-777-0133 and have offices in Santa Rosa and Ukiah, CA.
If you anticipate difficulties handling your insurance claim, you may also want to consult an attorney.
- Take your time and assess your situation – do not rush into any decisions.
- Your insurance policy may not cover everything.
- Help is available. If you need to file a complaint about your provider, call the California Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-4357 or submit your complaint online. You can also enlist the assistance of Jesse Chrisp and our other attorneys.
- You may be eligible to file a claim against PG&E. This will be separate from your insurance claim and you can learn more about it here.
- Our firm offers free consultations and is available at (707) 549-8166
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