California’s Catastrophic Fire Season
Fall of 2017 marked the beginning of one of the most catastrophic fire seasons in California history. In October, Northern California experienced unprecedented fire damage where lives were lost and nearly 15,000 homes were completely destroyed or damaged. December hit Southern California with wild fires that have been dangerously whipped up into a firestorm by Santa Ana winds. The devastation these fires caused in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties prompted President Trump to declare a federal state of emergency in the area. The Thomas Fire (in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties) has been declared the largest wildfire in California’s modern history. These destructive fires will prove to be an emotional and costly experience for homeowners.
Solutions for Your Property Damage
Rebuilding after a fire can be a daunting task. Homeowners should immediately contact their insurance agent to discuss options at this early stage and to set a plan for the coming months.
California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones reiterated that homeowners have 2 years to collect insurance payments. California law states when a state of emergency is declared, as Governor Brown did for the Northern California fires and as President Trump did for the Southern California fires, homeowners have up to 24 months to claim insurance benefits.
Homes that have only suffered smoke or water damage should seek out restoration companies through their insurance carrier. These companies can help clean up a home and wade carefully through toxic debris that can occur in a fire’s aftermath. Insurance companies will request a detailed inventory of items damaged in a fire. Determine which items are salvageable and which are not. Make a detailed list of all items lost with brand names, purchase price, dates purchased and serial numbers. Photos are very helpful as well. Items not damaged should be stored. Discuss with your insurance agent about storage facilities and storage costs. Most importantly, work with your insurance company to find a “like kind and quality” place to stay if you are unable to go back to your home. Most policies include coverage for food, clothing and shelter in or near your city.
To make the process go smoothly and to settle your claim as quickly as possible, be sure to be available for meetings and phone calls with your insurance agent. Submit paperwork promptly and keep an open dialogue with your insurance company.
As hard as it is to remain positive at times like these, it is important to remember that nearly everything in our homes is replaceable – it is for this reason that we maintain fire insurance. We, our loved ones, and our pets are not replaceable. We at Property ID count our blessings and remain hopeful for the safety of our friends and family in these areas.