Fire Guide 2018: Insurance, Pt. 2

For pt. 1 about insurance in the 2018 Fire Guide, click here.

As local Farmers Insurance Agency owner Rene Williams explained a couple of weeks ago in the last Malibu Times Fire Guide, homeowners need to be proactive in order to ensure they have the insurance coverage they need in case of a fire.

Williams recommended homeowners review their policies with their agent “to make sure they have the correct amount of coverage.”

This week, at the bottom of this page, we have provided a list of issues to go over with your insurance agent to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

But what if you are being denied insurance coverage?

City Manager Reva Feldman explained that in the past, following the Thomas and Santa Rosa fires in 2017, some residents “heard from their insurance company that they were being denied coverage”—likely due to Malibu’s high fire risk factors. At that point, Feldman directed those complaints to the city’s lobbyist in Sacramento, who brought them before the state’s insurance commissioner, while residents petitioned their insurance companies and eventually received coverage.


Since that time, the city manager explained, she has not been aware of similar issues.

“Right after the Santa Rosa Fire and the Thomas Fire, there were a lot of companies that just blinked and said, ‘No,’ and since then it’s calmed down,” she described.

“If there are other residents that are being denied, that’s an avenue I can go down,” Feldman said. “If there are residents who’ve had issues with fire insurance, they should contact the city.”

Is your insurance coverage comprehensive and up-to-date?

Here are some questions to consider asking your insurance agent:

  • Is my coverage enough to rebuild my property? (Could range from $400-$1,000 per sq. ft.)
  • Do I have all-peril coverage—covering wind, hail, fire, vandalism, smoke, etc.?
  • Does it cover ancillary buildings, gardens, trees, outside walls, septic replacement and code upgrades?
  • If I have a California Fair Plan (fire only), are there other “wrap-around” policies I could use to fill in the gaps in coverage?
  • Have my rates increased due to brush clearance issues? (If clearance is tight, 20% may be added to deductible.) 
  • Am I in danger of having my policy cancelled due to brush clearance issues?
  • Do I have documentation of the interior of my home? (A video slowly going through rooms and closets should suffice.)
  • Do I have enough contents coverage? (Typically 50%-75% of replacement value of the home)
  • Does my coverage include replacement value, or cash value? (Cash value will be significantly less—not enough to replace lost items.)
  • Are my most valuable items—fine art, jewelry, guns, cash, collectibles—insured separately from my home insurance plan? (Most plans only insure individual items up to $1,500)
  • Do I have loss-of-use insurance to cover living allowance? What restrictions does that insurance have? (The timeline for replacing a home burned in a fire could be three to four years.)
  • Does my loss-of-use insurance cover loss of income from a rental property?


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