Safe & Secure: Law firms claim to recover thousands of dollars f - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Safe & Secure: Law firms claim to recover thousands of dollars for people in fire-stricken areas

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If you live in Santa Barbara County, chances are you've received a letter in the mail from a law firm warning you of the dangers of ash and soot from the recent Alamo and Whittier wildfires.

"They're talking about health risks and future deterioration of your home," said Laura Landine, who lives in Santa Maria and received two letters, one for each fire.

The letters are from law firms, using words like "contamination area," "smoke and ash," and "health complications" stemming from microscopic soot and ash particles in a "home's central heating and air conditioning unit, ducts, insulation, walls," the list goes on, that could cause "health hazards."

They claim to help homeowners recover thousands of dollars in "restoration settlements" from insurance companies.

"I thought about it, showed it to my husband, and decided it was something we did not want to pursue," Landine said.

So what should you do if you get one of these letters? Most people who posted on the KSBY Facebook page said they are throwing them away, but if you have questions:

"My thinking is keep your money in your pocket, run it through your insurance company," said Scott Engle of Engle Insurance in San Luis Obispo, who has worked in the industry 37 years and has never seen a pitch like this to residents in fire areas.

"By paying your homeowners premium or your fire premium, you're already paying for the services of claims adjusters, so why would you want to pay an additional fee to an attorney's firm?" Engle questioned.
Plain and simple, you are likely already covered for these repairs without filing a lawsuit and giving attorneys their share.

Engle said, if you want to know if you are covered for these damages, ask your insurance agent about "ash and soot damage" coverage.

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