Season Approaches For 2009 - Why Aren't San Diego's 2007 Fire Survivors Back in
Their Homes Yet?
October 2007 Wildfires are two years in the past but many of the affected fire
victims have not yet been able to rebuild their lives and their homes. Out of
the more than 1,700 San Diego City and County homes that were lost in 2007,
only about 55% of the homeowners have obtained building permits and started
their rebuild process. Many of those have not yet finished.
Taking So Long?
insurance is one of the most common reasons why homeowners were not able to
quickly rebuild their homes. According to Amy Bach, Executive Director, United
Policyholders, "After the 2007
wildfire in San Diego County, 75% of the victims found themselves underinsured
by an average of $250,000."
PolicyHolders recommends that you do not take your agent/insurers' word for it
that you are fully covered without confirming and preserving their promises in
writing. Ask your agent or insurance company for confirmation that you're
adequately insured for a total loss.
reason that many have not been able to rebuild is because the insurance
companies "lowballed" the estimated amount it would take to rebuild.
Changes in local building and fire codes can substantially increase the cost of
rebuilding as well.
insureds receive a lowball estimate and realize it is not enough, they then
must renegotiate with the insurance companies which often means bringing in
legal professionals or public adjusters," says Ron Reitz, President of San
Diego Quality Claims Management. "This results in even more delays to
the rebuilding process."
to Valerie Brown, Project Coordinator at RB United, one of several affiliated
non- profit fire recovery centers helping fire victims in San Diego County,
"The most common issue is the long negotiation that occurs between what
the contractors say it will take to re-build the house and the amount of money
that the Insurance company is willing to provide for rebuilding."
are ways to help prevent these insurance issues from affecting you.
sure you understand your insurance policy. Set up a time to meet with your
agent to go over your existing policy to make sure you understand what is
covered and what is not. Confirm that you have the right amount and the right
type of insurance for your property and your possessions.
do have a disaster, and feel you are not being treated fairly, contact a
professional for help. Talk to non profit organizations such as United
PolicyHolders as well as numerous legal professionals and public adjusters who
can help you. You may also with to file a complaint with your state Department