The FPA of San Francisco Provides Tips for Dealing with Disasters like the Recent California Fires

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For those faced with the aftermath of one of these disasters, we’ve collected tips on what to do next.

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The firestorms that have ravaged Northern California may be coming to a close but, for many, the impact has just begun. Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by or have a loved one who has been affected by the California firestorms or the hurricanes in the southern regions of the country. For those faced with the aftermath of one of these disasters, we’ve collected tips on what to do next:

1.    Take a moment to reflect. If you are struggling to take action because of your grief, then take a moment to write down all your thoughts, concerns and questions. This allows you to take inventory on what's on your mind and likely impacting your level of stress and decision-making ability.
2.    Secure housing quickly.
3.    Request Agent help. Your agent/broker knows the insurance carrier best. Enlist their help early and often.
4.    Continue to pay your mortgage and contact your mortgage lender. You still need to make your mortgage payments. However, you should contact your mortgage company and make them aware of the situation to see if they can make special arrangements.
5.    Get organized. Your claim will be competing with many others: the most organized claims will be handled quickest. Keep notes; be detailed; collect photos from your records, friends and family; keep all receipts.
6.    Document any push back or resistance from your Insurance Company. If issues become unresolved this information can be used to complain to the California Insurance Commission.
7.    Understand the replacement value. Get to know your policy intimately or ask your financial planner to help you understand it.
8.    Communicate via email whenever possible –it is a permanent record.
9.    Avoid using any 3rd party adjuster. They don’t have guarantees and they charge a portion of the total available monies (note - fee is negotiable if you must use one).
10.    Ask for a portion of your settlement up front—If your home has been damaged or is a total loss, some companies will send you 20% right away to get you started. Be mindful of how you spend it. Note: the statute in California for people with a lender on the policy is any amount over $50k on building property must be issued in the name of the lender and the insured. If there’s a mortgage and a Line of Credit, the check will have three names on it.

For questions please contact info(at)fpasf(dot)org or visit us on Twitter @FPAofSF.

About the San Francisco Chapter of the Financial Planning Association
The Mission of the Financial Planning Association of San Francisco is to advance the financial planning profession in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards by providing education, community, networking and leadership for our Bay Area members and through them the public they serve. For more information, please visit

Holly Wilkerson
Executive Director
(877) 260-3218

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