The wildfires in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Counties are an important reminder that Fall is high-risk wildfire season in California and a Wildfire Reality Check should be conducted immediately. Evacuees should listen to authorities and then reach out to their insurer, says ACIC, the California voice of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
“Seven of the top ten wildfires with the most insurance claims have occurred in California during September and October,” said Mark Sektnan, ACIC President. “If you have been evacuated, you should contact your insurer immediately. Insurers are ready to help policyholders.”
2017 has been a very active wildfire year. The National Interagency Fire Center reports there have been 50,283 fires that burned 8.5 million acres nationally.
“Everyone has been working hard to recover from the hurricanes, but we also need to remember we live in wildfire country and this month can be very dangerous,” said Sektnan. “Now is the right time to call your agent or insurer and do an insurance check-up or take your smart phone and video each room of your house. Renters should also check their coverage and make a home inventory. These simple steps can make a big difference if you have to file a claim and rebuild your home.”
- Tip 1: Conduct an Annual Insurance Check-up
- A home is generally your biggest asset. So it needs to be protected. Call your agent or insurance company to discuss your policy limits and coverage annually. Make sure your policy reflects the right square footage and materials of your home. Consider purchasing building code upgrade coverage.
- Tip 2: Know What Your Policy Covers
- The details matter. Understand if you have a Replacement Cost policy that pays to replace all your items at current market price or an actual cash value (ACV) policy that takes depreciation into account and pays less for aged items.
- Tip 3: Update Your Policy to Cover Home Improvements
- If you make home improvements, be sure to call your agent or company to update your coverage. Make sure your insurer knows about the changes so the new tile or room is covered if you must rebuild.
- Tip 4: Maintain Insurance
- If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain homeowners insurance. Do not be caught after a fire with no way to rebuild your home. The maximum federal grant for disaster recovery is $33,000…that is not enough to rebuild a home. Check with loved ones with paid off homes to be sure they continue to carry homeowners insurance.
- Tip 5: Get Renters Insurance
- Renters can lose everything in a fire just like homeowners. Many Auto insurers bundle Renters insurance coverage with an Auto insurance policy for affordable prices.
- Tip 6: Make a Home Inventory
- Video or photograph each room of your home. Remember to document drawers and closets.
- Describe your home’s contents, what you paid, where and when you bought items in your video.
- Remember to note and video your electronics, appliances, sports equipment, TVs, computers, tablets, etc.
- Store key documents like a home inventory in the cloud or fireproof case.
- Don’t forget to video or photograph what is inside your garage.
Article by Nicole Mahrt-Ganley. ACIC, the California voice of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, represents 363 property casualty insurance companies doing business in California. These members write $20.2 billion in premium in California insuring 36 percent of the property casualty insurance sold in the state.