State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said Friday that homeowners' insurance policies may cover living expenses as well as property losses in fires, such as those now engulfing parts of Southern California.
The California Department of Insurance (CDI) is currently monitoring several wildfires in the state, including the Springs Fire in Ventura County and the Summit Fire in Riverside County.
"Families are already fearful of losing everything they own, they should not worry about paying for hotels, meals and other incidentals," Jones said. "Many homeowners' insurance policies cover the additional living expenses incurred by a mandatory evacuation."
His remarks came as the danger from wildfires involve much of the state, including the Easy Bay hills and on the Peninsula.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the Springs Fire which has already scorched 10,000 acres, damaged at least 15 homes, five commercial properties and 15 outbuildings. As many as 4,000 homes remain threatened and many road closures are in place. The Summit Fire is 65% contained, destroyed one structure and all evacuations for have been lifted.
Many homeowner insurance policies cover living expenses (ALE) during natural disasters. 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 and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage costs, telephone installation and extra transportation expenses to and from school or work.
Commissioner Jones reminds all Californians that CDI is here to help and also urges residents to get prepared for wildfires today by taking three important steps before any disaster.
He also urges everyone to make sure their insurance policies are up to date and that they have copies in two alternate locations.
Conduct a home inventory that collects photos, has detailed descriptions and is easily updated, he suggested. Also, make sure there is a defensible space of 100 feet around the home.
A free home inventory guide is available on the CDI Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov, or by calling the CDI Consumer Hotline at 800-927-HELP.