Fire Insurance Help
According to a recent article on NPR, “there’s no such thing as fire season in the West anymore. It’s fire season all year.” California residents know this better than most. Two and a half million acres of California have burned, and the risk is growing. For some people, this means that home insurance companies are pulling out of whole areas, leaving homeowners more vulnerable just when more people are moving to more remote areas in order to be able to afford a home. Finding fire insurance and navigating insurance claims policies after a fire can be confusing and difficult. Several California resources can help.
The California Dept. of Insurance offers resources for people looking for home insurance, including fire insurance, and it hosts an information hotline. The site provides lists of authorized providers of home insurance, including companies offering discounts for homes in “Fire Wise” or “Shelter-in-Place” communities, or for individudal “fire-hardened” homes (homes that have taken specific steps to forestall fire damage, such as removing all vegetation within a certain distance of the home, or home-safety measures against wind-blown embers).
The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has many resources available to inform REALTORS® and homeowners about fire insurance and what to do before or even after a fire. Fire insurance one-sheets describe how to fire-harden a home, how to find or keep fire insurance, how to prepare for other damages related to fire such as floods and mudslides, and more. C.A.R.’s Disaster Relief Fund provides information, resources, and emergency funding for REALTORS® affected by fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Consumer advocate for insurance policyholders and attorney Amy Bach co-founded the non-profit, United Policyholders, to providing information about homeowners insurance regarding wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more. They have three main programs: the Roadmap to Recovery, that provides tools and resources for solving insurance problems after an accident; the Roadmap to Preparedness, that promotes disaster preparedness and insurance literacy through outreach and education in partnership with civic, faith based, business and other non-profit associations; and Advocacy and Action, which advances pro-consumer laws and public policy related to insurance matters. For more information, visit uphelp.org.
The California FAIR Plan Assocation was created by a California statute in 1968 as a group of insurers who do business in California that may offer temporary access to basic fire (and sometimes earthquake) insurance as a last resort, when a property owner cannot get access to coverage in the traditional market through no fault of their own. It was designed to address shortfalls in the marketplace. Plans available typically cover only very specific types damage listed in the policies, due to fire, lightning, internal explosion, and smoke.