Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Damage

December 31, 2020

As of November 2020, more than 50,000 wildfires have ravaged California, with five large fires currently raging in our State. Though California law provides minimum standards for fire insurance coverage to include reimbursement for the actual cash value of property lost or damaged in a fire, insurance claims can still be challenging to navigate. As such, if your property has been impacted by a recent fire, a fire damage attorney can guide you in recovering the funds you need to start new. 

Here is a quick overview of what to expect when dealing with insurance claims related to fire damage.

My house was damaged in a fire. Now what?

As in any natural disaster, focus on safety first. If you need to retrieve any salvageable belongings, be cautious in doing so. Fire damage can compromise the structural integrity of the home and create hazards from smoke, water, and mold growth, making the property dangerous until these safety concerns are remediated by professionals.

While you may be eager to get started with recovery, your first step should be contacting your insurance company. Your insurance provider may ask that you take certain steps to minimize further property damage. Additionally, your insurance company may have recommendations for trusted contractors and restoration services to assist you with the clean-up and restoration or rebuilding needs.

Before you contact an insurer, however, it is important to take an accurate inventory of all property damage. Take pictures, keep a detailed list including values, and save receipts for food, clothing, and other expenses you incur while displaced from your home. To evaluate your claim, your insurance company needs an accurate and complete inventory of your property, repair estimates from professionals, and cause and origin information from officials. In these cases, it is helpful to engage an experienced insurance attorney to review your insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage and help with initiating legal action to recover expenses not covered under your policy. Not to mention, if you or your family are injured, you may also have a claim for personal injury or wrongful death, so an attorney can help you manage these claims as well.

Who is responsible for wildfire damage?

When investigations reveal arson or other causes, such as the dozen fires in 2017 that were the result of PG&E power lines coming into contact with trees, the person or persons responsible may be liable for associated damage. You may have a claim against the responsible party or even your insurance company if your claim is denied for a true wildfire. A California wildfire attorney can assist you with understanding your options and taking the appropriate action to recover the compensation you deserve.

Should I have an attorney review my insurance policy?

Absolutely. This is especially important if your insurance company denies your claim. In addition to evaluating your policy, an attorney can perform assessments independent of those relied on by your insurer. These independent assessments can identify the cause of the fire, assess the value of related losses, and establish the full value of the claim your insurance company or other responsible parties are on the hook for.

How should I prepare for fire damage?

Ensure you have adequate insurance. Standard insurance policies usually cover fire damage, but if you live in a high-risk area, you may need to purchase a special policy for wildfires. Confirm that your home and auto policies cover fire damage and purchase additional coverage like wildfire insurance if needed.

If you are unsure what your insurance policy covers or if you have been denied coverage for a fire-related claim, an experienced insurance attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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