In light of the Cave Fire that broke out on the afternoon of Nov. 25, I felt this was an appropriate and applicable press release to share with you. This fire is yet another reminder that we should not neglect to understand our fire insurance coverage and options.

The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) issued the following statement in response to California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s request for the expedition of claims handling for California’s wildfire victims:

“We are pleased that Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has asked for insurance companies to expedite the claims process for wildfire victims so that they can begin the rebuilding and healing process and move forward with their lives,” said C.A.R. President Jeanne Radsick, a second-generation Realtor from Bakersfield.

“With so many homes and businesses lost in the state’s recent fires, this move will provide affected communities with more immediate support in their time of need,” Radsick said.

Commissioner Lara is asking insurance companies to provide greater flexibility to survivors affected by wildfires across the state with some deadlines and documentation typically required to pay claims, including:

Minimum four-month advance payment of Loss of Use, Fair Rental Value or Additional Living Expenses.
Minimum 60-day billing grace period to allow for lost or destroyed renewal notices.
Advance payment of at least 25 percent of policy limits for personal property — without the completion of an inventory.
Accepting any inventory form that contains substantially the same information as a company-specific form.
Accepting an inventory that includes groupings of personal property, such as clothing, shoes, books, or food items rather than listing individual items.
Expediting payment of vehicle damage claims covered under comprehensive loss coverage.
Cooperating with consolidated debris removal efforts coordinated through city, county, and state agencies, unless the insurer can provide more rapid debris removal outside of this effort.

The Santa Barbara Association of Realtors welcomes you to call your Realtor and insurance representative to learn about how risks of natural hazards can affect home values, insurability and ultimately your peace of mind. SBAOR continues to advocate for homeowners to become more informed and protected throughout all phases of homeownership.

— Thomas Schultheis is with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, and can be reached at 805.729.2802 or