The disastrous fires across the state of California have people here at home re-evaluating whether they’re prepared for the worst.
“I was actually just thinking about that yesterday and how I don’t know with 100 percent certainty if I do have fire coverage, so it’s definitely something I’m gonna want to take a look into,” said Santa Maria homeowner Margarita Hernandez.
While many things in the insurance world have become more simplified, some homeowners say they’d like insurance agents to be even more transparent about what’s actually covered in their policies. For example, flood insurance isn’t typically included in policies and takes 30 days to go into effect after the policy is written.
“I think they should make that very clear right off the bat when someone’s getting a new insurance policy,” Hernandez said.
Allstate agent Mary Rowan-Ishikawa says insurance companies often can’t change your policy once a disaster is affecting your area, so it’s best to look at your policy each year, sometimes with the help of a contractor.
“If you were to talk to a contractor in your local area they would tell you what the approximate value per square foot is, so let’s say it’s $100 per square foot or $200 per square foot to rebuild your home, you would want to take that into consideration and then look at your policy and compare that,” Rowan-Ishikawa explained.
She also suggests taking photos of your belongings as a reminder of what needs to be replaced.
“Just opening cabinets, opening drawers and closets and taking quick photos really makes it easy for the client to remember because for these folks who lost everything, how do you remember what was in your kitchen cabinets?” she said.
Rowan-Ishikawa recommends keeping important memorabilia like heirlooms in a safe place like a safe deposit box or storage center so they will be protected if there is damage to your home and keeping a bag in your car ready for emergencies at all times.
When it comes to heirlooms and memorabilia, she says you should only remove them if you know a disaster is approaching and aren’t replaceable. Otherwise, if they are permanently stored offsite, they could be vulnerable, and they could have limitations in coverage if stored at another residence on a regular basis.
It’s estimated 7,600 homes were destroyed so far in the Camp Fire and 435 in the Woolsey Fire.