Protecting and insuring your home during wildfire season

LA HABRA, CA —  Insurance agent Neil Estrada likes to use the tagline “Deal with Neil.”

But lately, the Fil-Am Orange County Chamber of Commerce president and a StateFarm agent has had to deal with more calls about wildfires.

“I have customers up and down California some of them in the wildfire zones and fortunately a lot of them who aren’t, however it is a real problem we have to deal with, and I just want to make sure customer no matter if they’re my customers or your customers, they actually get the right information that they need.”

Throughout California, wildfires have become a common threat.

Residents from the past weeks Woolsey fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are now beginning to return home, and in some cases, they return to nothing but ashes.

Estrada says each home will be a case by case basis, depending on a person’s insurance provider.

But there are two major factors when entering a claim: dwelling and loss of use.

“Dwelling is going to be how much the insurance company is going to replace of your home’s value. A home might be worth a million bucks but the cost to replace it might only be $500,000 because there is land value so take a look at that coverage over there so for example if that was a million and you can replace and build your house with 500,000 that’s what the insurance will cover you for.”

Insurance companies would also be able to help a person through the rebuilding process by covering the loss of use, meaning a person’s temporary housing accommodations.

“They’re going to spending time maybe in a hotel or possibly another home. The loss of use is important because it will provide that coverage for your stay and then also your food just make sure it’s within reason.”

And as for the items that may have burnt inside, he adds, “things like your TV, your bed, your clothes. There should be a pretty good amount on your homeowners insurance declaration page that you can easily see there We just want you to actually replace what’s yours and what really means something to you so we would ask for honesty and integrity — sometimes they’ll ask for a receipt especially bigger ticket items.”

For the ultra luxurious homeowners or those who have tools and equipment, Estrada says those customers would at times have a separate personal articles policy.

As for victims that may have rented out property that has burnt down, he adds that renters insurance usually includes property insurance, and it would be the landlords dealing with home insurance.

As the fires begin to subside, residents do face the threats of mudslides. However, Estrada says mudslides aren’t usually covered by homeowners’ insurance.

But last year, some companies have been able to work with mudslide claims, saying that those mudslides were a product of the wildfires.

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