After significant damage of, or loss to property due to a disaster, insurance and compensation services can vary. It is important to carefully review any policies you currently hold for the benefits and services available to you, and to reach out to your insurance carriers with specific questions. The following links include useful resources and information related to insurance.
Help With Insurance Claims
The California Department of Insurance can help with insurance claims or policy questions. They can be contacted at (800) 927-4357. The website contains useful information and tips on filing insurance claims and can be found at Getting Help (ca.gov).
The California Department of Insurance Office of the Ombudsman will assist with questions and complaints regarding insurers, insurance policies and insurance claims. Inquiries will be referred to the appropriate experts. The office can be contacted by calling Therese Gallagher, Legislative Liaison/Ombudsman (916) 492-3457. Informational Flyer - 2022 Memo to Legislative Offices
The United Policyholders (UP) is a non-profit group that helps guide policyholders on navigating claims at no cost. Their website is https://uphelp.org. You can contact UP through email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have Anthem Health Insurance? Please visit their website for temporary changes in benefits for individuals affected by the Oak Fire www.anthem.com/blog/member-news/help-for-members-impacted-by-wildfires-in-california/
Home Insurance Steps After a Fire:
- Contact and inform your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Request a full copy of your insurance policy. This should include a “declarations page.”
- Note: The law requires your insurance company to provide this to you free of charge within 30 days of request.
- Start by reading your policy's "declarations page" as it shows how your policy is divided. Identify how much coverage you have in the following categories:
- Home rebuild/repairs
- Other structures
- Personal property
- Loss of use/additional living expenses (such as spoiled food, temporary rent, additional mileage, etc.)
- Read your policy carefully. Mark areas you may not understand and ask your insurance provider to explain them to you.
- If your property has been declared safe for re-entry, take your own photos of the damage.
- DO NOT sift through debris without clear instructions from your insurance provider. Sifting through debris could disturb evidential debris needed for insurance claims which may affect your insurance claim money.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: State funding opportunities for debris removal available- visit Returning After the Fire-Debris Removal for more information. Consult with your insurance provider should you choose to participate in the state removal program.
- Track your expenses. Keep your expenses organized and recorded so that you can prove them in your claim with the insurance company.
- Consult with your insurance provider on additional steps to:
- Recover possessions
- Request a cash advance (additional living expenses such as temporary shelter and food costs can be expensive)
- Rebuild, repair, relocate and/or additional recovery
Damage to vehicles may be able to be claimed by insurance. Smoke damage can occur if your vehicle is near a large fire. Smoke in upholstery can cause respiratory problems and irritate asthma and allergies. You should get a copy of your insurance policy and work with your home and/or car insurance policy for damage to vehicles.
Be Vigilant With Scams
To help prevent being scammed, do not be in a hurry to make decisions related to your possessions. Ensure anyone doing work on your home, vehicle and property is approved by your insurance and is a licensed professional. In a declared disaster, a contract can be canceled without penalty within 5 days of signing the contract.
- You may be able to rebuild at another location and still receive full replacement cost benefits.
- Do not call anyone to repair or replace your loss without instructions from your insurance company or adjuster.
- Do not throw away damaged property until given instruction by your insurance company or adjuster.
- Document conversations with your insurer/adjuster. Include information on exclusions, limitations, and conditions.
- Get more than one licensed contractor’s estimate or build for repairs.
- Do not assume you are not covered for a claim because a neighbor or friend was not covered.
- You can upload an app on your smartphone from NAICS (scr.APP.book) to organize pictures for insurance claims.