SACRAMENTO — The Thomas Fire raging through Ventura has damaged at least 150 homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. With ongoing heavy winds and little containment, evacuees should listen to local authorities and leave their home if requested. The next step is to reach out to their insurer, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
“Prior to the October Northern California wildfires, seven of the top ten wildfires with the most insurance claims have occurred in California during September and October. The devastating fires in 2017 unfortunately confirm that fall and winter continue to be a dangerous time for wildfires,” said Mark Sektnan, PCI vice president. “If you have been evacuated, you should contact your insurer immediately. Insurers are ready to help policyholders. One call to the toll free number or click on a website or app will get the claims process started.”
2017 has been a very active wildfire year. The National Interagency Fire Center reports there have been 56,186 fires that burned 9.2 million acres nationally.
“Despite the historic fires in Northern California and hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas, insurers will be ready to assist Ventura County homeowners and renters,” said Sektnan. “For those not impacted by these latest fires, now is the right time to call your agent or insurer and do an insurance checkup or take your smart phone and video each room of your house. Renters should also check their coverage and make a home inventory. These simple steps can make a big difference if you have to file a claim and rebuild your home.”
Toll Free Insurer Numbers
Top Ten Most Costly Wildfires — prior to 2017 wildfires
Take a Wildfire Reality Check
Tip 1: Conduct an Annual Insurance Check Up
Call your agent or insurance company to discuss your policy limits and coverage annually. Make sure your policy reflects the right square footage and materials of your home. Consider purchasing building code upgrade coverage.
Tip 2: Know What Your Policy Covers
The details matter. Understand if you have a replacement cost policy that pays to replace all your items at current market price or an actual cash value policy that takes depreciation into account and pays less for aged items.
Tip 3: Update Your Policy to Cover Home Improvements
If you make home improvements, be sure to call your agent or company to update your coverage. Make sure your insurer knows about the changes so the new tile or room is covered if you must rebuild.
Tip 4: Maintain Insurance
If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain homeowners insurance. Do not be caught after a fire with no way to rebuild your home. Check with loved ones with paid off homes to be sure they continue to carry homeowners insurance.
Tip 5: Get Renters Insurance
Renters can lose everything in a fire just like homeowners. Many auto insurers bundle renters’ insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy for very affordable prices.
Make a Home Inventory
Tip 1: Video or photograph each room of your home. Remember to document drawers and closets.
Tip 2: Describe your home’s contents, what you paid, where and when you bought items in your video.
Tip 3: Remember to note and video your electronics, appliances, sports equipment, TVs, computers, tablets.
Tip 4: Store key documents like a home inventory in the cloud or fireproof case.
Tip 5: Don’t forget to video or photograph what is inside your garage.