INSURANCE COMMISSIONER DAVE JONES TOURS BURNED AREAS, OFFERS TIPS TO PREPARE FOR WILDFIRES AND HOW TO HELP SURVIVORS

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East County News Service

October 8, 2015 (Sacramento) – California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones visited communities hit hard by the Valley Fire, also noting that two lives were lost in the Butte Fire.

“Homes, apartments, and businesses reduced to ash. Cars melted. Power lines down. It was a terrible sight,” he says.  “I checked to make sure insurance companies have sent in staff to assist consumers with claims. I spoke to Department of Insurance detectives who we have deployed to make sure consumers are not scammed. Department of Insurance personnel have visited evacuation centers and will staff assistance centers to help victims with any insurance questions or disputes.”

In addition, Jones says, meetings with local authorities, Cal Fire, the CA National Guard and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services confirmed that the relief effort is well coordinated.

But he observes, “The fire reminds us of the importance of being prepared for the worst.”

Jones offers these tips to prepare:

1. Review your insurance policy annually. Ask your insurer or agent to prepare a home replacement cost calculation for your home and then review it. Insure to the level you need to replace your home.

2. Take a moment to create a video inventory of your possessions and home. Save the video in your cloud storage online. Also e-mail the video to yourself and someone outside of your region, or mail it to someone outside of the area.  Note: video files can be large, so make sure to check and confirm it arrived.  You can also mail or deliver a video via thumb drive or DVD.  Having a home inventory is critical in reducing disputes with your insurer if the worst happens.

3. Have a plan to evacuate your family. Prepare a "grab and go kit." Get out if fire is approaching. Leave immediately if ordered to do so.

Jones adds, “It was moving to see people from across California who have volunteered to help the residents hit hard by the Valley and Butte fires.”  Information on how to help and where to send donations to help victims can be found here.