SHASTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, August 1, 2018 —The property insurance claims filing process is beginning in communities where California’s multiple wildfires have already been extinguished, but the crisis has not yet passed, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“Insurance adjusters, catastrophe personnel and mobile claim centers have been deployed to staging areas to respond to customers impacted by the most recent wildfires,” said Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s California-based representative.
Homeowners, renters and businesses should take three steps to begin the claims-filing process if their properties were impacted by the wildfires, the largest of which are the Carr (Shasta County) and Mendocino Complex Fires (Mendocino County and Lake County), according to the I.I.I.
1. Assess your property damage
Be prepared to give your insurance professional—either an agent or insurance company representative—a description of the damage to your property and a copy of your home inventory, if you have one. Your insurance professional will report the damage immediately to your insurer or to a qualified adjuster, who will contact you to arrange an inspection. Make sure you give your insurance company contact a cellphone number at which you can be reached.
2. Contact your insurance professional
When starting the claims filing and settlement process, find out from your insurance professional whether the damage is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, the timeframe in which you have to file a claim, and whether you’ll need property damage repair estimates.
3. Learn what’s covered
Homeowners and Renters
Damage caused by fire and smoke, or by firefighters while extinguishing a blaze, is covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies also typically cover a policyholder’s Loss of Use (LOU)/Additional Living Expenses (ALE), when an insured disaster makes a residence uninhabitable. Moreover, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover damage to trees, shrubs and plants up to 5 percent of a home’s total dwelling protection coverage limit. The limit of insurance available per tree, shrub or plant is generally about $500. There is also coverage for debris removal.
Damage caused by fire and smoke is generally covered under either a Business Owners Policy (BOP) or through a Commercial Multi-Peril (CMP) policy. Business income insurance—also known as business interruption coverage—is typically included in either a BOP or CMP and provides coverage for lost revenue, fixed expenses and the costs of operating from a temporary location.
Damage caused by fire and smoke is typically covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Nearly four out of five U.S. drivers (78 percent) opt to purchase comprehensive coverage, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
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Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org