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Article: California Consumers Trying To Understand Fire Insurance

The wild fires in California are prompting consumers in the state to better understand their fire insurance policies. Governor Schwarzenegger has conducted several press conferences on the fires, yet new fires are arising every day due to the arid conditions facing the state.

Homeowners who have fire insurance are pulling out their policies to make sure they’re covered. However, while homeowners may know that they have fire insurance, many don’t really understand much about the process. We asked Bob Scott, a partner with the Advocate Law Group in California to provide some insight. According to Scott, taking an inventory of what you have is crucial. “Homeowners should take a moment with their video camera and just stand outside the house and shoot the whole outside and then walk through the house and identify all of their personal property.

“Open the closets. Just look inside. Just make, if you would, a very simple 10 to 15 minute video of their house, their property and their other structures. In other words, videotape the home, the other structures and their personal property by just showing the camera around, not too fast, using slow pans and give that to a family member to put someplace else in case your house burns down. That’s probably the best thing one could do to prepare for this other than to learn more about their coverages.”

Fire insurance terms that every consumer should know

There are certain fire insurance terms that every consumer should know, such as loss of use and additional living expense. According to Scott, “The terms mean that the insurance company is going to pay for you to live in a like quality residence while they’re redoing your house and that you don’t have to go to a thrift or second hand store to buy new clothes. You can go to any store you want. You shouldn’t go to the downtown Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, but you should go to a Nordstrom’s or somewhere else that you would shop and buy clothes that you need and the insurance company will pay you back. These are very important things that many insurers never thoroughly explain and we see it all the time in the cases we get.”

Additional information

Homeowners seeking additional information about the fires can go to Governor Schwarzenegger’s website at http://gov.ca.gov/ or to a dedicated webpage on the fires at http://www.calfires.com/.

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