How to Protect Yourself and Your Home Following a Fire
Most California homeowners have insurance to protect themselves and their homes against fire damage. Following a massive blaze, like the recent destructive fires across Northern and Southern California, insurers may be looking to minimize payouts. Joshua Heffner, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in fire-related claims, explained, “in a mass loss, they’re looking at their overall payments. They’ll do what they can to keep payments down. And they’re getting very smart about paying less.”
How can you protect yourself and your home in the case of a disaster like a fire?
Be Proactive about Coverage
If you live in an area that is prone to specific types of disasters, like wildfires or hurricanes, consider purchasing additional coverage ahead of time. While the cost of your policy will go up, you will be protected in the event of an emergency. Fire insurance, for example, can help cover the cost of replacement, repair, or reconstruction of the property if needed. Amy Bach, executive director of the advocacy group United Policyholders, estimates as many as two-thirds of California homeowners may not have enough coverage for a catastrophic fire.
Be Diligent about your Policy
In cases of widespread natural disasters, like major fires, insurance companies may try to reduce individual payouts. Study your policy ahead of time, so you know the extent of your coverage in case of an emergency. Be prepared to file a claim quickly, most policies require homeowners to report damage within 90 days to qualify for coverage.
Be Aware of Additional Assistance
When natural disasters occur, government entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will often provide disaster relief to affected areas. If you are the victim of a natural disaster, like a fire, and the president deems it a “presidentially declared disaster area” you may be entitled to some assistance. Depending on the circumstance, you could be eligible for other types of assistance.
In 2018, home insurers reported a record $12 billion in fire-related claims from California homeowners. As fires become more prevalent and damage more extensive, protecting yourself with adequate insurance is crucial. If you have questions about your existing policy or are setting up a new policy, meet with an insurance agent to determine what coverage you will need.
Sources: LA Times