California residents forced to evacuate could tap insurance for cost reimbursement
News: 2018 Press Release
BUTTE/LOS ANGELES/VENTURA, Calif. — Thousands of residents from Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties ordered to evacuate due to wildfires may have homeowner or renter insurance coverage to help with evacuation and relocation costs, even if their homes are not damaged or destroyed, and in many cases no deductible is required.
"With sometimes only minutes to evacuate, residents often escape with only the clothes on their backs,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Additional living expense coverage can help ease the financial burden of evacuation and is often the first step in helping residents begin the recovery process. I urge residents to reach out to their insurer and verify their coverage to get the help they need.”
Many homeowners are unaware they may have insurance coverage under their homeowner and renter policies to help them with evacuation and recovery expenses under additional living expense coverage, known as ALE. ALE coverage typically includes food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, and extra transportation expenses.
The department is urging evacuees to contact their insurer to verify their ALE coverage provision, limits and learn about requirements to use the coverage. It is critical to keep all receipts and document the date, time and names of any insurance company employees you speak to regarding your coverage and details of the conversation.
Here are some tips for consumers:
- Policy provisions, including deductibles, vary by company, residents should check with their insurer or agent as soon as possible to confirm coverage, limits, and any other limitations and documentation requirements. Most renters' policies also typically include ALE coverage.
- Consumer should make sure any insurance agent or public adjuster offering their services has a valid license by checking online with the Department of Insurance.
- Public adjusters cannot solicit business for seven calendar days after the disaster.
- Don't forget copies of insurance policies, important papers and a photo or video inventory of your possessions. Keep all receipts accrued during the evacuation. An inventory can be completed quickly and easily on your smart phone and safely stored in the Cloud.
- Additional resources and information for consumers on wildfires are available from the California Department of Insurance. Download a free home inventory guide from the department Web site, or receive a hardcopy by calling the California Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-927-HELP (4357).
- If you have any questions or need assistance, the California Department of Insurance is here to help. Please call: 1-800-927-4357 or visit www.insurance.ca.gov.
- Additional contact information:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or www.fema.gov
- Contractors State License Board: 1-800-321-CSLB (2752) or www.cslb.ca.gov
- National Insurance Crime Bureau 1-888-815-9064 or www.nicb.org
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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.