California Wildfires – We’re Here To Help:
We have offices in California and attorneys who only focus on first-party property insurance claim litigation. We only work on behalf of the policyholders and never on behalf of the insurance companies. Our California attorneys – Dan Veroff, Derek Chaiken, and Victor Jacobellis – each bring a wealth of experience in dealing with wildfire claims.
Merlin Law Group has developed a nationwide presence. Our reputation is known by public adjusters and contractors. By forging strong relationships with other insurance professionals with boots on the ground, we are able to successfully address the specific and unique challenges that communities face following a wildfire. Merlin Law Group has positioned itself as the premier national firm fighting for policyholders to ensure that claims are not delayed, denied, or underpaid. We are also a large supporter of United Policyholders, a non-profit organization that serves as a voice for insurance consumers.
Wildfires are statistically the most widespread natural disasters. They are an ever-growing threat, particularly to the midwest region. It is important that homeowners are aware of the insurance impact when moving or building in these high-risk areas. Wildfire damage can completely wipe out your property, leaving you potentially on the hook for total loss.
Businesses should always beware of the economic consequences of wildfire damage by insuring for income, extra expenses, and in many instances, contingent business income loss coverage should also be purchased. Contingent business income coverage is often the most overlooked coverage type.
Wildfires By The Numbers
By the end of 2020, there were approximately 57,000 wildfires – roughly 7,000 more than the number in 2019 at the same time of year. 2020 saw more than 10.3 million acres burned and five of the largest 20 wildfires in California history (iii.org).
August 2020 saw hundreds of wildfires started by a series of lightning strikes across Northern California. This was known as the August Complex Fire and culminated in approximately 1 million acres burned across six counties. Another fire, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, spanned five counties and resulted in $2 billion in insured losses.
A state of emergency was declared in California on September 28, 2020, as a result of wildfires burning through Shasta, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. These fires combined to burn over 67,000 acres and 1,500 structures. This state of emergency resulted in over 70,000 residents being evacuated from various counties. The Glass Fire, which affected Napa and Sonoma Counties in October 2020, caused $2.9 billion in insured losses.
Wildfires are a serious threat and 2020 was a testament to the damage they can bring. It is important you are prepared in all aspects.
Wildfire safety tips:
- Create approximately a 30-foot zone around your property free of as much flammable material as possible. If achievable, replace any flammable vegetation with fire-resistant plants.
- Reducing the number of trees in heavily wooded areas cuts back on potential hazard.
- When it comes to very large trees, prune lower branches a few feet from the ground.
- Remove any branches that overhanging or are within close proximity to the roof or the chimney. Keep dead leaves and foliage clean from the roof, gutters, and yard.
- If possible, have a roof that meets a “Class B” fire classification or better, installed on your property. If you have a chimney or stovepipe, keep them covered with non-flammable screening.
- Install dual- or triple-paned windows in your property.
- Keep any woodpiles and/or liquid propane gas tanks at a minimum of 30 feet from all physical structures and clear away any flammable vegetation from said woodpiles and/or propane tanks.
- Designate an emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area. This is critical to determine who has safely evacuated from the affected area.
- Several different escape routes from your home and community. Practice these often so everyone in your family is familiar in case of emergency.
- Have an evacuation plan for pets and large animals such as horses and other livestock.
For The Policyholder™
Wildfire Claims eBook
We have put together an eBook on wildfire damage claims with helpful tips on navigating the before, during, and after stages of a wildfire and subsequent wildfire insurance claim. You can access and download the eBook by clicking the button.
Tracey Bregman Press Release
Merlin Law Group’s California offices have handled numerous wildfire claims. One of our more recent cases involves famous actress Tracey Bregman (known from The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful). She is suing her insurance company over damage from the 2018 Woolsey Fire and MLG attorney Derek Chaiken is assisting in handling her claim. You can read more by reading our Press Release.