After A Wildfire: Your Options for CompensationRequest Free Consultation
Wildfires have devastated land, property and communities across California over the past several years. Most recently, the Dixie Fire became one of the larges, most destructive fires in California history. If you were impacted by the Dixie Fire or any other wildfire, what are your options?
At Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, we understand the seriousness of wildfires, and we are committed to providing you help the best we can. If you are seeking compensation, here are some options that may aide you through the recovery process.
Homeowners Insurance Can Provide Significant Compensation in the Event of a Wildfire
Your homeowners’ insurance is the first place you look for compensation for any wildfire losses. Generally, most standard insurance plans include fire insurance coverage – it is typically covered under the “named perils” in your plan. This coverage usually includes:
- The entirety of the house, minus the foundation
- Your belongings in the house
- Any assets in your general property. This may include landscaping projects such as fences, along with detached structures such as sheds and garages.
If your house has been completely destroyed, your insurance may offer the option to replace your home completely rather than rebuild in the same location.
Consider Your Additional Living Expenses Coverage
Your homeowners’ insurance may also provide compensation for any incidental costs as a result of the disaster. This is known as “additional living expenses” or “loss of use” coverage, and it can cover your expenses while you are displaced from your home. This commonly covers costs for food, clothing, and shelter, but also provides coverage for other incidentals, such as:
- Additional mileage and travel as a result of displacement
- Any utilities paid in your temporary housing
- Any storage fees
- Pet boarding
- Additional furnishings in your temporary home
It is important to note that loss of use coverage usually has a monetary cap that depends on the limit of your homeowners’ coverage. For example, if you are covered by a basic plan (HO-2) policy, your additional living expenses limit is 30 percent of your dwelling limit.
Seek Government Assistance As Soon As Possible
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently opened federal disaster assistance to those impacted by the Camp Fire. These federal grants can help you pay for temporary housing and other expenses as a result of the fire.
If you were affected by the fire, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov immediately to start the application process. In order to complete your application, you will be required to give:
- Your Social Security Number
- The address of your damaged/destroyed home
- A detailed description of the damage
- Information about your insurance coverage
- Telephone number
- Mailing address
- Any banking information for direct deposit purposes
The application process usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete. However, processing your application may take time depending on the volume of claims received during this time.
FEMA also recommends visiting any disaster recovery centers that are established during natural disasters. These centers may be able to provide additional assistance.
File a Third-Party Claim Against Parties Responsible for the Fire
In many cases of wildfire, a large corporate entity may be responsible for igniting it in the first place. This was absolutely the case in the cause of the Dixie Wildfire, where blown fuses caused the ignition. However, in other wildfires, there may be other potential defendants, including other utilty companies.
When a corporation is responsible for a fire, they may be help liable for the damage that it causes. Victims may be able to hold the accountable through litigation.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding filing a lawsuit against PG&E and any other responsible parties, please contact us today. At Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex wildfire claims, successfully recovering compensation for our clients. We are well-versed in seeking damages via the claims process, and we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit against other companies if they are responsible for your losses.