Like many of us in North Bay and across California, I lost my home in a wildfire.
While we are incredibly grateful that we only lost material things and were able to come out of it unharmed, the experience of losing our home to the fire and the resulting journey left us etched in. never.
In the early hours of the Tubbs fire in 2017, our house was in ashes, as was everything we owned, and we had nowhere to live.
But that was only the start of the new journey we were forced to take.
Next is dealing with the bureaucracy, legal jargon and paperwork of our insurance claim.
And I considered ourselves one of the lucky ones – as I advise my clients to do every year, we had recently evaluated our home insurance policies and had the coverage we needed to cover this type of loss.
Several of our clients at Willow Creek have also suffered substantial losses in the last few years of wildfires, and I want to share an experience that is, frankly, one of the most significant in my entire career as a consultant. heritage.
My clients who lost their home in the Kincade fire in 2019 recently received a significant sum of money due to the major changes that have just been made to California law regarding residential property insurance.
I was almost to tears hearing about them and the relief in their voices that their insurance company would pay their entire policy, retroactively to the event. They believed the claim was settled after purchasing a replacement home earlier this year.
As you can imagine, their gratitude for this incredible result made me want to shout from the roof of our office in Sevastopol that anyone who has suffered losses from the fires should check with their insurer. now and discover certainly if they have received all the money owed to them.
It wasn’t until my clients shared California Department of Insurance Bulletin with their insurer that they have been notified of this windfall.
So here’s what you and your neighbors, friends, family or loved ones need to know:
If you have suffered a total loss of property, there is now a loss settlement clause in the California Insurance Code stating that the insured can choose to rebuild in the same location, in a different location, or to buy a home from someone else. other place.
This includes paying the cost of building code upgrade or replacement cost, including any extended replacement cost coverage.
This means that if you decide not to rebuild, you could still be owed the full limit on your policy.
Of course, the amount due depends on the specifics of your policy. It is essential that you make sure that you are not owed anything, as your insurer is unlikely to proactively ensure that you get everything you owe.
Another essential part of this new law states that insurers cannot limit or deny payment of building code upgrade costs, which means the insurer must pay the costs of code upgrades – such as mandatory ceiling sprinklers, for example, in a reconstruction. If you are replacing your home, your insurer can still cover the cost of upgrading the code, so be sure to check with your insurer about this.
I advise anyone affected by forest fires in California to check with their insurer and specifically mention the California Department of Insurance bulletin (that you can find on his site with a guide for fitters) and find out if you’ve been paid what is owed.
I further invite you to share this newsletter with your friends, family and neighbors.
I have personally witnessed a few cases where large sums have been paid. While this will never erase the trauma suffered by fire victims, it is one way to make a terrible situation a little more manageable.
Here are some other key California law provisions you should know about:
- If the insurance company reduces coverage, the renewal offer must be issued 45 days prior to the expiration date and indicate any reduction in limits or removal of coverage.
- If the insurance company plans not to renew a policy, the notice must be issued 75 days before the cancellation date.
- If you cannot live in your accommodation (due to restricted access by order of the civil authority), cover for additional living expenses will be provided for at least two weeks.
- If you experience a loss of residential property, you should ask your insurer for a complete copy of your policy within 30 days and a list of items that the insurance company believes would be covered for additional living expenses.
At the time of renewal, you should work with your insurer to adjust policy limits and coverage to reflect what is needed depending on the state of the rebuilding process.
The laws can be difficult to interpret and every situation is unique, but these changes could affect you and significantly increase what you can collect from your policy.
With this year’s wildfire danger at an all time high, it’s crucial for all of us to be prepared for a tough summer. Check your policies, update your coverage and know your rights. If you run into any obstacles with your insurer, contact a lawyer or other trusted advisor.