Homeowners Advised to Prepare For Wildfires

Hot weather and dry conditions ignited several wild fires around the state prompting Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to remind residents they may be eligible for reimbursement for additional living expenses due to mandatory evacuations.

"Anyone who has been forced to evacuate their home due to the fires in Kern County should check their insurance policies," said Commissioner Poizner. "Many homeowners' policies cover additional living expenses that result from mandatory evacuations - including hotel stays and extra food costs. If any evacuees have insurance questions, I encourage them to call the Department of Insurance at 800-927-HELP."

Many residential homeowners' insurance policies cover what is known as ALE, or additional living expenses. This permits homeowners to maintain their normal standard of living by covering the increased living expenses incurred as a result of damage caused by the fire or a mandatory evacuation. ALE coverage typically includes extra food costs, increased housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage costs, telephone installation and extra transportation costs to and from school or work.

Earlier in the week Poizner advised all local homeowners to proactively prepare for fires and other potential disasters by conducting a home inventory and updating their insurance policies.

Commissioner Poizner offered the following tips for conducting a home inventory:

  • Using a household digital camera and a Home Inventory Guide from the California Department of Insurance, catalogue your possessions and document their values. Photographs of household goods are especially helpful when an item is difficult to describe on paper, or if a purchase receipt cannot be obtained.
  • Label photographs with information about each item.
  • If a video recorder is used, commentary about each item should be included.
  • A copy of the inventory and supporting documentation, such as receipts and model numbers, should be stored in a safe place, such as a safe-deposit box, work office, or a relative's house.
  • These records should also include financial documents such as insurance policies and mortgage information.
  • A free Home Inventory Guide is available at www.insurance.ca.gov.
  • Contact CDI at 800-927-HELP to obtain consumer information guides about additional insurance products, or for any insurance-related questions.