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What You Need to Know about Filing a Wildfire Insurance Claim

Simple steps can ease a painful process for recovery.

Many of us know family and friends who have lost their homes in recent wildfires. Understanding how to proceed with filing an insurance claim is important. Here are some of the highlights, along with two useful Web resources.

Chris Hill
Chris Hill
» Contact your insurance agent/broker. If you do not have a complete copy of your policy, ask them to provide it. The agent/broker will submit the claim to the insurance carrier and then the insurance company will contact you. Keep a diary of all correspondence.

» If your home is not completely destroyed, make reasonable temporary repairs to protect against further damage. Keep receipts for all temporary repairs.

» Prepare for the meeting with the insurance company claims adjuster. Do not expect your claim to be resolved in the first meeting. Settling a claim is a process. The claims adjuster should help you understand the process. If you feel this is not happening, contact your agent/broker.

» Be wary of contractors, attorneys and public adjusters who solicit you to hire them and sign documents. Check them out. Hiring an attorney or public adjuster will remove you from communication with your insurance company and agent/broker. The first course of action is to work directly with the insurance company and the agent/broker. If there are material issues you cannot resolve favorably, then a public adjuster or attorney may be a resource to help you.

One of the best resources is the state Department of Insurance. Click here for the department’s Wildfires Consumer Information, which has a number of helpful sections to review.

Another great resource is the Insurance Information Network of California, which has many helpful hints, including how to create an inventory to present your claim.

If you have been spared from the recent fires, take this opportunity to review your policies and update as necessary to prepare for any future disasters. Reviewing construction costs and personal property values and re-evaluating your current insurance coverage may be in order. Taking the time to do this will better prepare you for the next disaster. Your insurance agent/broker is ready and willing to help you. If you are the next victim, the time invested will be well worth the effort.

Chris Hill is the founder and president of Riviera Insurance Services. For more information, e-mail him at [email protected] or call 805.880.4265.

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