ACM’s boots on the ground aid 2018 California wildfire claims
In ACM’s 30-year history, we’ve never seen the devastation and aftermath recovery such as that caused by 2018 California wildfire claims. A total of 7,295 fires burned 1,520,814 acres in California earlier this year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. These fires caused $2.973 billion in damages. The Ranch and River Fires (the Mendocino Complex Fire) became the largest complex fire in California history. The Carr Fire destroyed 1,079 residences and 22 commercial buildings, while damaging many other properties. As reported by news organizations, these fires produced indiscriminate burn patterns. Within a subdivision or town, some homes were a total loss while other homes sustained minor smoke damage.
Now, as of this blogpost date, there are several other fires burning across the state, burning thousands of acres, destroying hundreds of structures, and taking 44 lives. The largest fires, Northern California’s Camp Fire and Southern California’s Woolsey Fire, are still not contained, but ACM will be shortly sending out adjusters to work with our client’s claimants.
While the damage pattern from these fires is different from the destruction caused by hurricanes Florence and Michael, ACM’s preparation is similar. Once a fire has the potential to impact a developed area, ACM uses our state-of-the-art policy mapping to identify where our clients have residential and commercial properties which may be exposed. We mobilize our ACM staff members to respond by making calls out to the insureds even before claims are called in. We ensure the policyholders are safe and have our Claims Call Center phone number, even if they’re evacuated and don’t yet know the extent of damage.
Tim Allen, senior vice president of Property & Casualty, stated, “We communicate with all of our clients who may have exposure to assess their needs, so we can ramp up our field and inside quality assurance review team resources. These ensure personnel are staged in areas to enter the impacted area as soon as authorities deem it is safe to re-enter.”
ACM recognizes our clients’ policyholders whose homes are a total loss after 2018 California wildfires are faced an overwhelming process. Trying to gather records when someone has lost everything is a daunting task. One of the best means for an insured to substantiate their damages when a home is destroyed is to have their records (financial records, photographs, receipts, videos, etc.) stored in an offsite location such as a cloud database.
ACM adjusters work with the homeowners and businesses to assess all components of the available coverage their policy provides. When our clients’ insureds have accurate records detailing their possessions, the process is expedited.
Teresa Heller, ACM’s vice president of Property Claims, relayed, “Our experience is most families do not have an accurate assessment of all of their contents. Therefore, ACM deploys field investigators who are content specialists. These content specialists literally walk through a home that has been destroyed, assisting the homeowner in reconstructing what contents were in each room. This process of rebuilding after filing a 2018 California wildfire claim can be an arduous process filled with emotion.”
Heller added, “Insurance is a small but vital component of a family’s recovery. While we provide policy proceeds, this is just one step in the process. We recognize these families face daunting challenges rebuilding their homes. It is not just a single-family loss: There is a loss of community, as many of their neighbors have been impacted. The schools their children attend, their places of employment, the stores where they shop and the restaurants they frequent can all be impacted.
“There is also the challenge of securing resources to rebuild, which impacts the timeline for the family’s return,” she said. “State and local governmental regulations determine if the public infrastructure is restored to allow the rebuilding process to begin. It’s an arduous, long-term process.”
Whenever and wherever a disaster such as a California wildfire strikes, ACM is committed to assist our clients and their insureds begin to rebuild not only their property – but their lives as well.