Homeowners Insurance and Fire Loss
In the wake of the incredibly destructive Wine Country Wildfires, thousands of homeowners are looking to insurance companies for coverage before they repair or rebuild. The fires have destroyed 8,700 structures as of October 25th, making it one of the worst firestorms in California’s history. As firefighters continue to contain the blazes, residents are returning to assess the damage to their homes. Many are coming “home” to nothing at all – total losses that insurance policies will not cover. Count on Eric Ratinoff Law for professional help with insurance claims after fire-related losses.
Are You Covered?
Unfortunately, many homeowners are realizing that their insurance policies will not come close to covering 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 costs extra. The recent Wine Country Fires caused billions of dollars in damages. Insurance company dollars will be spread thin, leading to many unhappy policyholders.
The best way to find out whether an insurance company will cover your fire losses is to call your insurance agent. Do so as soon as possible after you realize your home has sustained damages in a wildfire. The agent will ask you to file a claim with a detailed description and valuation of your losses. An investigation will follow and eventually a settlement will be awarded (ideally) according to the provisions of your policy. The problem is, many homeowners overestimate just what their policies cover.
Review your policy for a better understanding of what benefits you might receive after a fire. Most homeowners insurance policies will cover up to a maximum amount of damages from wildfires. Keep the receipts of money you spend 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.
What to Do If You Are Uninsured/Underinsured
If you’re one of many homeowners making the unhappy discovery that your policy won’t cover your costs after the fires, don’t give up. There are other means of potentially obtaining compensation for property losses. First, look into the California FAIR plan, which provides property insurance to homeowners as a last resort. If you’ve tried to obtain coverage for your damages to no avail, then you may meet the requirements to qualify for coverage under the FAIR plan.
One of the best things you can do to protect your future after realizing you don’t have enough insurance is to speak to an attorney. A wildfire litigation team will have plenty of experience with clients in your exact situation. Lawyers can help you assess your damages, abide by insurance claim rules, and expedite the claims process. An attorney can also engage in settlement negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf to fight for maximum coverage. If your insurer delays or denies your claim, your lawyer can go to bat for you to address bad faith dealings. A lawyer knows how homeowners insurance companies work, and they know how to argue for the best possible compensation. To learn more, contact Eric Ratinoff Law.