More than a dozen fires have burned more than 1,500 structures in Northern California, with more than a dozen dead as of Tuesday afternoon.
CNN lays down the facts:
- More than 119,000 acres burned, much of it in wine country – Napa and Sonoma counties.
- Fires surged behind hurricane force winds (79 mph gusts) – about the same speed as Hurricane Nate at its landfall a few days ago.
- Nearly 35,000 are without power.
- No rain is forecast for the next seven days.
Cat modeling firm RMS notes that the fires, taken together, are already the fifth most destructive in state history, as measured in the number of homes destroyed.
The Insurance Information Institute has background information on wildfires here.
The The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) has opened the IICF California Wildfire Relief Fund to assist in the growing need across the state. To donate click here.
Our thoughts obviously are with all of the families in peril right now.
Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s California representative, notes that wildfires differ from other catastophes like hurricane or tornado, in that the loss is more likely to be a total loss — the entire home burns along with its contents. Compounding the tragedy, often that includes the receipts and other evidence of ownership that make it easy to document what has been lost.
Her other thoughts:
- Coverage for alternative living expenses (reimbursement while waiting to return home) may be available through your insurance company. Money you spend on housing, food, clothing, etc as a result of a mandatory evacuation may be covered.
- After you have returned, report your claim right away to your insurance company. Insurers have multiple tools available to handle claims. Many will be onsite at local assistance centers or processing claims via mobile apps, online claims, call centers and more. Call your agent if you need additional assistance. Insurance companies are also proactively reaching out to people they know are in affected areas and may have a loss.