AIA Offers Resources for Recovery from California Wildfires

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As California deals with the most devastating wildfire in its history, the insurance industry is working around the clock to help policyholders through the recovery process.

Whether leaving or returning to a fire zone, the single most important thing you can do is follow [emergency official's] direction and advice.

As California deals with the most devastating wildfire in its history, the insurance industry is working around the clock to help policyholders through the recovery process.

“The insurance industry’s overwhelming priority right now is the safety of its customers,” said Katie Pettibone, vice president of state affairs, western region. “We urge policyholders to heed the warnings of emergency personnel and to contact their insurance company immediately so the recovery process can start right away.”

The American Insurance Association (AIA) offers these tips to property owners who have been affected by the wildfires:

  • Follow the direction of emergency officials. Whether leaving or returning to a fire zone, the single most important thing you can do is follow their direction and advice. It could save your life and the lives of others.
  • Use Caution when entering burned areas. Be aware of hazards that may still exist, such as fire hot spots that could flare up. Follow public health guidance on safe clean-up procedures, and wear heavy gloves and thick-soled shoes. Wet debris down to avoid breathing dust and ash particles.
  • Contact your insurer immediately to report all losses and damages. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy, if possible. If you have an agent, contact them – they may report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. If you can't remember the name of your company and your agent is not reachable, call your mortgage company – it will have a record of your insurer. Stay in regular contact with your insurer to speed the process of recovery.
  • Prepare a list of damaged property. If possible, photograph or video the damaged items and areas. When preparing a list for your adjuster, make two copies, one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Providing as much detail as you can may help speed things up – consider including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and perhaps even what it might cost today to replace it.
  • Keep all recovery-related receipts, including those for meals and lodging – these may be covered as “additional living expenses” if you have that coverage in your homeowners’ policy. Talk to your insurance company about temporary repairs. Your homeowners’ insurance policy may include reimbursement for reasonable expenses related to immediate repairs needed to prevent further damage to the home. However, don’t make permanent repairs until your insurer has inspected the damage. Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a licensed and bonded contractor, and give the estimate to the adjuster.
  • Return claim forms to your insurer as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanations.

Additional Resources:

CalFire: Current Fire Information
California Department of Insurance: Wildfire Resources
DisasterAssistance.gov: Recovery Help
American Red Cross

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Maggie Seidel

Rachel Wallen
American Insurance Association
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