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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.



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  • Writer's picture Therese Nugent

Insurance Tips for Homeowners in Wildfire Zones

Due to record-breaking California wildfires, insurance companies have responded by imposing huge premium increases on properties and, in some cases, flat-out denying coverage and canceling existing polices. Here are some tips for homeowners to maintain their current insurance plan or find a new one.

Know Your Rights

If your insurance carrier is not going to renew the policy on your home they must notify you in writing at least 45 days before the expiration date. If you receive a notice of rate increase or non-renewal, contact your insurance company immediately. You need to determine if your policy has a guaranteed renewal provision and you may be entitled to a renewal under laws applicable to homes lost in a declared disaster area.

Time Is Of the Essence

Gone are the days when insurance quotes were available within hours. Consider working with an insurance broker— and a local one—who can facilitate the process of filling out applications and getting quotes with access to multiple carriers. Make sure they keep you informed of which companies are being contacted and assure you they’re conducting a thorough search of all your options. Further investigate how you might be able to mitigate fire threat around your property, such as creating defensible space, making your home more insurable.

Get To Know Your Options

Admitted insurance companies are those that are backed by the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) which provides protection if the carrier becomes insolvent. Surplus lines (“non-admitted) are carriers who do have the protection of CIGA but often have more flexible offerings. If insurance cannot be obtained by an admitted carrier, a surplus lines carrier may be the best option.

Compare Types of Coverage and Limits

Ask these questions: Will the policy cover the cost of rebuilding your home to its pre-loss condition? Is there a coverage limit on rent and expenses while the home is being repaired or re-built? Does it cover demolition and debris removal? What causes are not covered by the policy? Make sure the policy will cover the cost to rebuild your home in compliance with current building codes and consider insuring your property for replacement cost value, not just depreciated actual cash value.

Of Last Resort

If you’re out of options the California FAIR Plan is available. However, in addition to being expensive, it only covers certain losses by fire and smoke so you will need to purchase what is known as Differences in Conditions insurance to cover other insurance issues such as theft and liability.


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