Soberanes Fire evacuees may have additional financial assistance available
News: 2016 Press Release
MONTEREY, Calif. — With thousands of homeowners under mandatory evacuation due to the Soberanes Fire, consumers should be aware their homeowner or renter policies may offer assistance covering costs associated with mandatory evacuation and recovery expenses. The fast-moving wildfire currently threatens 1,650 residences and commercial buildings and has already scorched nearly 15,000 acres and destroyed 20 homes.
Many consumers are unaware that their homeowner or renter insurance policy likely provides what is known as additional living expense or ALE coverage. ALE coverage reimburses policyholders for expenses incurred as a result of mandatory evacuation or damage caused by smoke or fire, enabling consumers to focus their attention on recovery. It is important to note policyholders DO NOT need to experience any damage or destruction to collect ALE benefits.
"Displacement due to disaster can create financial and emotional hardships," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I urge wildfire victims to contact their insurer to see if their policy covers additional living expenses associated with mandatory evacuation and recovery."
Residents should review their policies to see if they have coverage for additional living expenses and check with their insurer to confirm their coverage limits and the requirements to submit expenses.
ALE coverage typically includes food and housing costs, such as hotel or rental property, furniture rental, relocation, storage, and extra transportation expenses. Additionally, consumers need to understand the reimbursement process and expenses covered under ALE. Since documentation for all covered expenses is required, the department recommends saving all bills and receipts for expenses associated with the event. If you are having trouble identifying if an activity or item is reimbursable, contact your agent or insurer.
If residents need assistance, they can contact the department's Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357 for questions about their insurance coverage.
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- Infographic on ALE and recovering from fire.
- The Department of Insurance consumer services team regularly participates in Cal OES established local assistance centers for consumers needing assistance recovering from wildfires.
- Don't forget copies of insurance policies, important papers and a photo or video inventory of your possessions. An inventory can be completed quickly and easily on your smart phone and safely stored in the Cloud.
- Find quick and easy tips to prepare your home to help keep your home from becoming fuel for a wildfire.
- Additional tips and information for consumers about what to do before, during and after a wildfire are available from the California Department of Insurance. Download a free home inventory guide from the department website at insurance.ca.gov, or receive a hardcopy by calling the California Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-927-HELP (4357).
- Don't get burned after a disaster. Tips and tools to help prevent you from getting burned by a scam artist.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.