2021 California Wildfires – Insurance Claim and Recovery Help
Through our Roadmap to RecoveryTM program, you can access free, trustworthy help navigating the process of returning to a wildfire damaged area, repairing and replacing damaged and destroyed property, and collecting all available insurance funds. The Antelope, Beckwourth, Cache, Caldor Fire, Dixie Fire, Glen, Lava, McFarland, Monument, McCash, River Complex, and River Fires have affected many California residents. The CalFire Incident Report on the fires can be viewed here.
If your property is damaged or destroyed our guidance is here to help you get started on the road to recovery, make good decisions and keep moving forward.
United Policyholders is non-profit and has expertise from our nearly three decades of assisting in communities hit by wildfires. Our staff, disaster veteran and professional volunteers and our partnerships with public, private and non-profit partners will help lighten your load. We’re rooting for you and here to help. No strings attached.
We encourage you to take advantage of wildfire recovery help that is available through the California Department of Insurance (DOI). They have issued comprehensive guidance for those impacted by the fires – click here to access those resources. We will post relevant Bulletins from the DOI under Government Bulletins and Announcements at the bottom of this page.
The following are selected items from the extensive library of resources we offer. Through our Roadmap to RecoveryTM program, you can access tips, tools and the straight scoop on insurance, clean up, contractors, lawyers, adjusters, avoiding ripoffs and mistakes, your legal rights and emotional support from people who genuinely care about helping you navigate successfully.
Sign up on the right side of this page to receive information and alerts from United Policyholders. NOTE: United Policyholders respects and protects the privacy of all who communicate with our organization. We do not share or sell our mailing lists.
Eyes tired from reading? Watch our FIRST STEPS AFTER A WILDFIRE video here.
DIXIE FIRE WILDFIRE SURVIVORS: Download this flyer to learn how to apply for financial assistance from the United Way Northern California.
Taking it in and Getting Started
TIP: If you lost your home in the wildfire, when you file your insurance claim, be sure to ask for a cash advance to help you get situated. If this wildfire is a “California declared disaster”, your insurer is required to give you an advance of no less than 30% of your contents limit and at least 4 months of your “Additional Living Expense” coverage. Be sure to ask for it in writing (email counts). Your adjuster may be from out of state and unfamiliar with California law.Resources General
Resources Partial Loss
- First Steps After a Wildfire
- Speak UP: How to communicate with your insurance company
- Primeros Pasos Despues de un Incendio Forestal
- Top 10 Insurance Claim Tips
- Sample Letter Requesting Complete Copy of Homeowners Policy
- A Simplified Guide to Your Homeowners Policy
- Avoiding Frauds and Scams After a Disaster
- Insurance Lingo en Español
- Register with FEMA (if/when declared)
- Fannie Mae Mortgage Help - Don't Pay Before You Plan
- Fannie Mae - Planificacion de indemniz aciones después de un desastre
- AT&T Disaster Recovery - Customer Relief
Arranging Temporary Housing
After a declared state of emergency, your insurance company must give you a cash advance of no less than four months of living expenses while working with you on calculating your losses and benefits.
Your insurer must give you, upon request, a list of items normally classified as reimbursable ALE expenses. It is best to ask for this list in writing ~ email counts.
Please Note: This law went into effect January 2021 – if your insurance adjuster is from out of state, they may not be aware of California law.Resources General
Getting Organized, Informed and Empowered
- Insurance Consumer Rights in California (2022)
- FAQs about Home Insurance Claims in California
- Renters Insurance Claim Tips (California)
- Organizing Carrier-Specific Disaster Survivor Groups
- Insurance Accounting Spreadsheet
- Survivors Speak: Forced Choice Matrix for Decision-making
- Speak UP: How to communicate with your insurance company
- Permitting and title assistance from the California Department of Housing and Community Development
- Fast Facts Rebuilding After a Disaster - CA Contractors State License Board
- Getting Debris Removed
Being Pro-active in Documenting and Valuing Your Losses
Partial Losses/Standing Homes:
If your home was spared but was exposed to extreme heat and smoke, we offer specialized guidance on partial loss insurance claim issues related to proper cleaning, inspecting for damage, restoring healthy indoor air quality and repairing obvious as well as hidden damage.Resources General
Resources Total Loss
- Insurance Recovery Tips for the Dwelling Part of Your Claim
- The Scoop on “Scope” (of loss)
- Guidelines For Reviewing Adjusters’ And Contractors’ Estimates
- Xactimate Demystified
- Building Code, Ordinance or Law Compliance
- Survivors Speak: Estimating Your Loss
- Sample Letters and Documents
- Mobile / Manufactured Home Insurance Claim Tips
- Consejos para reclamos de seguros para casas móviles / fabricadas (California)
Creating Your Home Inventory and Navigating Your Contents Claim
Making Housing and Financial Decisions
$1 billion in mortgage relief funds are now available to California homeowners who have fallen behind on housing payments or property taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds do not have to be paid back and the program is free. Contact the California Mortgage Relief Program to see if you are eligible for this assistance.Resources General
- Underinsurance 101
- Survivors Speak: Coping With Underinsurance
- Tax Tips for Disaster Survivors
- Updating your home insurance after a loss...Staying protected without wasting money
- Sample Letter Requesting Extension of Deadlines to Collect Full Policy Benefits - CALIFORNIA DISASTER
- What to Do With Checks from Your Insurance Company
- Choosing a Contractor
Working with Your Mortgage Company
Your mortgage company cannot require you pay off your loan with your insurance proceeds, but they will typically be listed on the insurance payments along with you. Fannie Mae’s Disaster Response Network™ can help eligible homeowners navigate the broader financial impacts of disaster and the challenging recovery process with a team of HUD-approved housing counselors offering:
- A needs assessment and personalized recovery plan
- Help requesting financial relief from FEMA, insurance, mortgage servicers, and other sources
- Web resources and ongoing guidance from experienced disaster relief advisors
Homeowners can call 877-833-1746 to access the Disaster Response Network or other available resources.
Visit Fannie Mae’s KnowYourOptions.com consumer website for housing resources, including details on disaster relief. Homeowners can visit www.knowyouroptions.com/relief to learn more and find out if they have a Fannie Mae-owned mortgage and access to the full benefits of their Disaster Response Network.Resources General
Getting help if/when you need it
If you need help beyond insurance claim help, connect with a disaster case manager to help you develop a realistic long-term recovery plan. The disaster case manager helps identify and facilitate access to appropriate community resources that will support the plan. This will be set up during the long term recovery.Resources General
- Taking Care of Yourself Along the Way
Government Bulletins & Announcements
FEMA Makes Changes to Individual Assistance Policies to Advance Equity for Disaster Survivors
Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Plumas, Lassen, Placer, and Nevada counties.
FEMA eligibility update: If you live in Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Tehama, or Trinity county, the deadline to apply for FEMA assistance has been extended to November 8, 2021. Learn more here.
FEMA Fact Sheet. Beware of Frauds and Scams.
For the most up-to-date fire information for your region or county, please check with local authorities.
El Dorado County https://www.facebook.com/eldoradosheriff/
Butte County https://www.facebook.com/bcsonews/
Lake County https://www.facebook.com/lakesheriff
Lassen County https://www.facebook.com/LassenSheriff/
Nevada County https://www.facebook.com/NevadaCountyOES/
Placer County https://www.facebook.com/PlacerSheriff/
Plumas County https://www.facebook.com/plumascountysheriff/
Plumas County Dixie Fire Resource sheet http://bit.ly/Dixie-Plumas
Shasta County https://www.facebook.com/ShastaSheriff/
Siskiyou County https://www.facebook.com/SiskiyouCountyOES/
Tehama County https://www.facebook.com/tehamadsa/
Trinity County https://www.facebook.com/TrinityCoOES/