Cleaning up smoke damage from a wildfire can be costly!

Cleaning up smoke damage from a wildfire can be costly!

It seems like widlfires are breaking out all over California, so now is a good time to review your insurance policy to see how you’d be covered in the event that you suffered smoke damage. The latest blaze in Santa Clarita is the Railroad Fire, which broke out Monday afternoon in Newhall. It damaged some apartment buildings, but there are likely some condos and single-famlily homes in the area that may have been affected as well. You should be aware that some insurance policies place a $5,000 limit on smoke damage from a wildfire. That might sound like enough, but in many cases it’s not. Smoke damage can easily exceed that amount, sometimes climbing as high as $25,000 or more. So if $5,000 is the limit of your coverage … well, you’re out of luck. And speaking of condos, many condo owners are under the impression that their HOA policy will cover the interior walls, floors, ceilings and upgrades to their units, but most policies won’t. If your 1,000-square-foot condo suffered fire or smoke damage it could cost $100,000 to replace the interior. That’s something else to keep in mind when you purchase insurance. Questions? Call Carol Smith of insurancescv.com at 661-803-3803 for a free...
Make an inventory of your valuables before a brush fire or theft occurs!

Make an inventory of your valuables before a brush fire or theft occurs!

Most of us have things in our home that we treasure. This could range from jewelry and expensive silverware to high-end bicycles, musical instruments and personal computers. And we likely have some family photos and memorabilia that would be tougher to put an actual price on, as well as other things we don’t think much about, but still have value. TVs, stereo systems, furniture, clothing, art work … these come to mind. The point is, we have all of this stuff, but most of us never make an inventory. But with wildfires cropping up everywhere this summer, it would be a good idea to create a list of your valuables – particularly if you live in or near an area prone to these blazes. Creating a list — with the estimated value of each item — will simplify things in the event that you need to file an insurance claim. And fire isn’t the only bad thing that could happen. Your home could be broken into while you’re away, with thieves taking many of those things you’d hate to lose. One of the easiest ways to create an overview of these items is to make a video that shows each one. You can zoom in on brand names and model numbers so there’s no ambiguity as to the value. Most insurance companies will accept this type of proof during a claim and some even recommend this method. But check with your insurance company ahead of time to see if a video is acceptable. Most of the time, you can simply tell your insurance company that you owned certain items, but...
House shopping? Check out the risk of brush fires

House shopping? Check out the risk of brush fires

In Southern California, brush fires are a painful reality. They break out each summer in remote areas when the mercury begins to heat up. And Santa Clarita sees a lot of the action. The trend — both in Santa Clarita and other parts of the Southland — has prompted some insurance carriers to take action by not renewing homeowners coverage when an insured lives in a brush area. If you’re thinking of buying a home, make sure you check out the fire risk in your area first — because it could be high. It’s important that you check this out early on. If the home is in a brush area that could hike your monthly insurance premiums by a lot. The increased risk in fire-prone areas has also prompted some insurers to limit coverage for smoke damage from a wildfire to $5,000. In many cases, that won’t be nearly enough to get your home back into shape, so check your policy! Now for the good news. Insurance brokers — like Insurance SCV — typically deal with a variety of insurers. That means they’ll be more likely to find a company that will insure your home. The Pico Fire, which is still burning in Stevenson Ranch, is a good example of the kind of fires we see in and around Santa Clarita. And it’s on the smaller side. Other recent blazes, including one near Calgrove Boulevard and another one near the Towsley Canyon hiking area, were bigger, threatening many more homes. When blazes come through, they often leave charred homes and damaged vehicles in their wake. The lesson here is...
Make sure you know what your homeowners policy covers!

Make sure you know what your homeowners policy covers!

California’s workforce continues to grow … but it’s not all good news. Employment in the Golden State hit a record high of 18.5 million in April, but rising home prices and a limited supply of housing are driving some people away, according to the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast. The outflow of people leaving California is small, the study said, comprised in part of retirees who have been waiting for the equity in their homes to rise so they can sell and move to less expensive locales. There’s no doubt that home prices are high and still rising. Los Angeles County’s median home price hit $590,000 in April, a 7.3 percent increase from a year earlier. Orange County’s median price rose 5.9 percent during the same period to $715,000. San Bernardino County’s median price showed a 10 percent year-over-year increase in April, rising to $330,00, and Riverside County’s median price rose 6.1 percent to $375,000. If you own a home you’re on the upside of this equation because you aren’t facing the challenge of buying a house. Instead, you’re watching the equity in your home steadily rise. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.  But if you do move to another state at some point, the list of perils covered by your insurance company may vary, so it’s important to know what your policy will cover. If you’re in Florida, for example, you’ll have to worry about hurricanes, sinkholes and flooding. Make sure you check to see what your policy covers! Questions? Call Carol Smith at 661-803-3803 or visit...
Save on Natural Disaster Insurance by Being Prepared

Save on Natural Disaster Insurance by Being Prepared

Saving money where you can is never a bad idea, and insurance companies provide a number of ways you can save a significant amount of money on insurance. One of those ways is to save on homeowners and/or natural disaster insurance by taking steps to make your home less likely to be damaged in the event of a wildfire. As summer heats up in Southern California, the landscape dries out and the tiniest spark could result in a devastating fire. A typical homeowners insurance policy won’t cover you in the event that your home is damaged by a wildfire, but natural disaster insurance will, and the cost can often be offset by taking precautions to make your home more fire-resistant. The following are some inexpensive things you can do to greatly reduce your risk of wildfire damage and possibly save some money on your natural disaster insurance: Replace Your Vents – Install ember-proof vents on the outside of your home. They’ll keep out flames and embers that could otherwise ignite something on the interior of your home. Keep Gutters Clear – A lot of homes in the area already come with fireproof tiles, but fires can still start if there’s flammable debris in your gutters. Don’t Build Wooden Decks – If you’re wanting to build a deck outside your home, use brick, stone or concrete – not wood. Replace Fences – If you have a wood fence surrounding your property, consider replacing it using ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials. One of the best ways to save on your natural disaster insurance is to never have to file a claim in...
Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

The mudslides that swept through Montecito in Santa Barbara County earlier this year were chaotic — and devastating. They resulted in more than 20 deaths and scores of injuries. They destroyed more than 110 homes and 1,415 insurance claims were filed listing nearly $388 million in residential property losses, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. Many of those homeowners didn’t have flood insurance, but California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a formal notice in January to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages if it was determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires ultimately caused the mudslides. “Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017,” Jones said in a statement issued in January. “If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses.” Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, war or nuclear accidents. But a separate flood insurance policy may cover mudslide damage as long as the mud is carried by a river or stream of water. However, if it’s a landslide caused by a saturated hillside coming down it wouldn’t be covered by flood insurance. Most Mendicino homeowners did not carry flood insurance since there was was very little chance of flooding so something had to be done. If you’re looking to buy a home you should check to see what...