I Am A NorCal Fire Survivor

What Do I Do Next

If you are in a risk zone, evacuate as soon as possible.  If you have a copy of your homeowner's insurance policy, bring it with you.  Do not risk your life to find it.  California insurance companies are required to keep a copy in your file.

Understand your legal rights.  We've made a quick and easy guide to help you understand what you are entitled to from your insurance company.  Click here to read more.

Make a claim for the loss as soon as possible.  The large number of losses will tie up available resources for evaluating claims.  Click here to learn more about making a claim.

Start a claim diary.  Take careful notes about who you talk to, important phone numbers, dates, times, and what was said.

Ask for advances as needed.  Insurance companies sometimes agree to make cash "advances" on a future claim settlement, even though they are not required to do so.  If your policy covers living expenses "as incurred" but you are running out of funds, ask for an advance.

Take photos.  Take photographs of your personal property and structural property.  Look for photographs of your property that has been destroyed in your phone or on any cameras or computers you took with you.

Register with FEMA.  FEMA can provide assistance, including low-interest loans to help you get started on your recovery.

Regularly check-in with the Department of Insurance.  The California Department of Insurance is providing on-the-ground assistance and is regularly updating its website with new information.  Click here to find out more.

Consider a public adjuster or attorney.  Public adjusters and attorneys negotiate your claim with the insurance company on your behalf, for a percentage of the recovery.  Make sure the public adjuster is licensed.  Also, public adjusters should not be seeking your business until at least seven days after the evacuation orders are lifted.

Make an inventory of personal and business property.  This includes everything in the property other than the structural components.  You will need this for your claim.

Locate important documents.  If you are a business, you will need to have documents reflecting your business income to make a claim for the amount lost due to the fire.

Keep your receipts for food and temporary housing.  You may be entitled to reimbursement for alternative living expenses under your policy.

After you submit a claim, keep a close on eye on it.  It is your obligation to cooperate with the insurance company's reasonable requests for assistance.

Review any insurance claim payment in detail.  Make sure your insurance company is giving you all that you are owed.  Pay close attention to how much depreciation the company is taking from your payment.  Insurers frequently abuse depreciation.

Avoid singing broad releases from the insurance company.  You may be giving away your right to more claim payments you are entitled to receive.

You can also review the San Francisco Chronicle's article on this subject quoting our attorney Ivo Labar by clicking here.

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