The aftermath of the West Fire: Dealing with insurance

More than 30 homes were destroyed in the fire
Posted at 5:32 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 20:37:34-04

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) - Dealing with insurance after a wildfire can be stressful and emotional. On Monday, people packed the resource center in Alpine to ask questions following the West Fire. The Department of Insurance was one of the representatives there.


Insurance agents say one of the biggest issues they see after a natural disaster is people being underinsured.


“You want to make sure you have enough coverage at the time of a loss. You talk to your insurance agent and you forget about it,” said Holly Ferrante with Farmers Insurance.


A couple of Ferrante’s customers lost their homes in the Cedar Fire back in 2003. During that time, Ferrante said rebuilding was slow.


“Back in the Cedar Fire, there were many more jobs than there were contractors, so it does take awhile,” Ferrante said. She said response to the West Fire should be quicker because there were fewer homes affected.


She said it is important to remember that fire insurance covers additional living expenses.


“That allows you to live somewhere else after your house burns and before you actually get to move back into it when it’s complete,” Ferrante said. “Sometimes, I have also seen additional living expense used to buy a trailer if they want to live on their property."


The Insurance Information Institute provides tips on dealing with a claim after a disaster. 4.5 million homes in the United States were identified at high or extreme wildfire risk, with more than 2 million in California, according to Verisk’s 2017 Wildfire Risk Analysis.


An Insurance Information Institute spokesperson said insurance policies can range from a few hundred to a several thousand dollars a year.


Ferrante encourages everyone to look over their policies before the next California wildfire.