Maximizing Insurance Coverage for Fire Cleanup
Homeowners who lost homes during California and Oregon’s 2020 wildfire season will soon need to decide if they want to “opt-in” to a debris removal program conducted by and overseen by Local/State/Government officials or “opt-out” and hire their own private contractors to complete the debris removal program requirements; we discuss pros and cons of each in an article here. Regardless of which option you choose, you should absolutely determine your insurance coverage for debris removal. What we first believed to be a simple question you should pose to your insurance agency turns out to be significantly more complex. Here’s what we recommend ask your insurance agent based upon what previous homeowners, contractors and insurance agents have informed us:
- What exactly is my insurance coverage for debris removal AND is that portion of my insurance coverage separate from coverages for replacement costs for my structure, contents, and other structures on my property. It turns out most of our homeowner insurances have coverage that extend beyond simple replacement costs (i.e. the coverages for debris removal, or at least a portion thereof, are essentially provided by your insurance and above and beyond your standard coverage at no cost to you).
- Most insurance companies provide coverage and replacement costs for 3 distinct items: 1. Your structure, 2. Your contents/possessions and 3. Other structures on your property. Each of these 3 distinct items has a policy limit specific to your property; many insurances allow you to utilize 5% of the policy limits for each distinct item (i.e. your coverage for debris removal is likely a cumulative total of 5% of your policy limit for structure replacement + 5% of your policy limit for content/possession replacement + 5% of your policy limit for other structures replacement). Utilizing these 5% portions of your coverages also typically DOES NOT come out of the replacement costs provided by your insurance company. Make sure to verify this with your insurance companies as this information may not be disclosed without you asking for obvious reasons.
- Last, if you feel you are not being treated fairly by your insurance company or agent, there is a state agency you could call for assistance (in California, see here; in Oregon, see here)
Whether we work for you or not, we will try and help you and give you the best advice we can. Please feel free to contact us if you have further questions or need additional information.
Clay Guzi and the Guzi-West team
888-351-8189 x 5; firstname.lastname@example.org