Fire-damaged homeowners face insurance troubles

People whose homes are damaged by fire may face a challenging time dealing with their insurance companies. The results of major wildfires, such as the Camp Fire, have changed the way that many insurers do business. Homeowners devastated by fires have faced massive losses, from their homes themselves to the landscapes that once surrounded them. After a claim, however, or a significant fire in the area, homeowners are likely to face substantially increased premiums. For people living near the Camp Fire, fire insurance costs have doubled in the year after the disaster.

Fire threats are leading to a loss of insurance coverage

In California, 167,000 homeowners were unable to get their insurance policies renewed in 2018, which was an increase of 6% throughout the state. Furthermore, there was a 10% increase in the number of policies that were not renewed in areas likely to be impacted by wildfires. Of those who had their coverage terminated, 88,000 lived in areas where there was no active fire threat. State law does provide several protections for homeowners who have had their insurance policies cancelled.

Insurance companies may turn against policyholders

A fire can have a devastating impact on a person's life. In its aftermath, an individual may be left without a home or business, and the fire may have destroyed many prized possessions stored within the property itself. Those who have fire insurance may be able to get help rebuilding their homes and their lives after such an event. However, an insurance company might try to claim that a policyholder committed arson and is not entitled to a payout.

How to file an insurance claim

Those who have an insurance policy may feel at ease knowing that there is financial protection in case of emergency. However, the process of filing a claim after a natural disaster or other event that causes damage may be confusing to policyholders. The first step in the process is to review the policy itself to get a better idea of what it covers and what it doesn't. It may be possible to do so with an insurance agent or legal counsel.

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