Wildfires: California Insurance Commissioner Urges Evacuees to Record Expenses, Seek Reimbursement

California residents with insurance who are evacuating wildfires may have coverage for relocation costs, even if their properties are not damaged or destroyed.

Source: KPIX | Published on August 24, 2020

The Eagle Creek fire on the night of September 3rd 2017.

More than 10,000 weekend lightning strikes caused hundreds of fires that are still active across the state, leading to continuing orders for tens of thousands of people to leave their homes.

“With more than 367 wildfires sweeping the state, I want evacuees to know additional living expense coverage can be available to help ease the financial burden of mandatory evacuations,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a press release issued Thursday by the California Department of Insurance.

As well as food and housing costs, coverage for “additional living expenses” during a fire may extend to furniture rental, relocation, storage and transportation.

Residents should keep all evacuation-related receipts and check with their insurance company or the state insurance department to learn how their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance might apply to a wildfire evacuation.

During the November 2018 Camp Fire, insured losses amounted to more than $12 billion, as claims climbed in the months after the disaster.

In 2019, the Department of Insurance found that homeowners insurance became less available – and policy non-renewals increased – in high wildfire-risk areas.

A one-year state moratorium on non-renewals for residents in high-risk areas is now in effect. It also protects homeowners who did not experience total loss. A state measure introduced early this year, Senate Bill 872, would preserve insurance coverage whether a resident decides to relocate or rebuild.