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Sonoma County residents forced to evacuate could tap insurance for cost reimbursement

SONOMA, Calif. — Residents from Sonoma County ordered to evacuate due to the Kincade Fire may have homeowner or renter insurance coverage to help with evacuation and relocation costs, even if their homes are not damaged or destroyed, and in many cases no deductible is required. The entire community of Geyserville is under evacuation order.

“Additional living expense coverage can help ease the financial and emotional toll an evacuation has on affected residents,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “It is crucial that residents are aware of all the resources available to them. I encourage evacuees to contact their insurance agent or the Department of Insurance for assistance."

Many homeowners are unaware they may have insurance coverage under their homeowner and renter policies to help them with evacuation and recovery expenses under additional living expense coverage, known as ALE. ALE coverage typically includes food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, and extra transportation expenses. The department is urging evacuees to contact their insurer to verify their ALE coverage provision, limits and learn about requirements to use the coverage. It is critical to keep all receipts and document the date, time and names of any insurance company employees you speak to regarding your coverage and details of the conversation. Here are some tips for consumers: Keep all receipts accrued during the evacuation.

Policy provisions, including deductibles, vary by company, residents should check with their insurer or agent as soon as possible to confirm coverage, limits, and any other limitations and documentation requirements. Most renters' policies also typically include ALE coverage. Consumer should make sure any insurance agent or public adjuster offering their services has a valid license by checking online with the Department of Insurance. Public adjusters cannot solicit business for seven calendar days after the disaster. Don't forget copies of insurance policies, important papers and a photo or video inventory of your possessions. An inventory can be completed quickly and easily on your smart phone and safely stored in the Cloud. 

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833. 

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