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UP Answers Insurance Questions (Apr 2018)

From an April 11, 2018 email from United Policyholders »

Here are answers to questions that were asked during our last Roadmap to Recovery workshop in Santa Rosa:

Q:   Which insurance companies are waving inventory requirements and paying 100%, and how can I get my insurance company to do the same?

A:   Our survey results will have some of this info, and the most updated Dept. of Insurance list is here: Our sample letter requesting an inventory itemization waiver is here:   Sample letter

Q:   The debris removal is done, and I am waiting for the bill. How much will I be charged?

A:   You pay what your insurance covers for debris removal; the County/FEMA program covers the rest. See

Q:   What do I do for contents that cannot be replaced i.e. art and antiques?

A:   Research comparables, substantiate the value of the items, and fight depreciation. Antiques should not be subject to depreciation.

Q:   If I am not rebuilding, can I still get paid for the cost of permitting upgrades that would have been incurred if I did rebuild?

A:   See:

Q:   How does contents depreciation work, and is it negotiable?

A:   Depreciation is supposed to be based on both age and condition. Always negotiable. See:

Q:   If rebuilding costs increase over time can I renegotiate later on to have my insurance company pay the actual cost?

A:   Yes, the settlement you negotiate before you start the rebuild is usually characterized as an allowance, and if reasonable things need to be added or costs go up, that should be paid for if there is still coverage available. The idea is that the number you agree upon in the beginning of the rebuild is in the ballpark of what the total cost will end up being. Getting as close as you can to avoid disputes later.

Q:   Why are different insurance company estimates so different; mine is 8 pages, and I have a friend with a 200-page estimate?

A:   Most insurers use Xactimate. If you have a short version (8 pages), you may need to ask for the “extended scope of loss” which is may be what your neighbors have (200 pages). See:

Q:   If I hire a public adjuster will I still have to personally deal with my insurance company?

A:   Usually the insurance company will only deal with your public adjuster once they get involved, but if you want to stay engaged you can and should.

Q:   What is the best way for me to counter the insurance company estimate for rebuilding costs?

A:   By getting a scope of loss prepared by an estimating professional and/or local builder. See:   “Scoop” on Scope of Loss.

Q:   My temporary housing is covered for 24 months, is there any way to extend that?

A:   Current law only requires the insurer to pay 24 months, but if you’re not done rebuilding at the 24-month mark and you have coverage still available under ALE, it’s unreasonable for the insurer to cut you off and you can ask for an extension.

Q:   Are the additional living expenses use it or lose it? Can I get them to pay me out if I do not use the full amount?

A:   ALE is typically paid as incurred. Lump sum settlements are hard to get, but not impossible if you make a strong case of why it makes sense. Some policies pay fair market value instead of actually incurred rent. Some people negotiate buying a temporary house, a trailer, etc., but there’s no silver bullet (hence why SB 897 is needed to clarify what is covered under ALE).

For more information or to view previous workshops, visit  The recorded workshops are posted at the bottom of the page.

Also see Common Insurance Questions, Answered» and UP’s Scoop on Scope»

Neighbors Together SR does not provide any advice or endorse any service provider or agency. 

October 2017 Northern California Firestorm: Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa: Coffey Park; Fountaingrove (Hidden Valley Estates (HVE) is lumped with FG); Larkfield-Wikiup-Mark West-Riebli; Rincon Valley-Deer Trail-Calistoga Rd; Bennett Ridge (Nuns/Annadel Fire) . . . See more . . . »

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