All Fire Survivors – Much of this information will be useful to you. I hope to reorganize this page to be more useful to those outside of Sonoma County, but for now, please read through to see how forming or joining an insureds group is very valuable for fire survivors who have insurance.
(Scroll down for a list of existing groups or claimants looking for a group.)
Organizing Carrier-Specific Fire Survivor Groups
United Policyholders developed a simple post-disaster community organizing model in 1991 that has been used successfully by survivors throughout the United States to navigate the insurance claim process, overcome obstacles and get fair settlements.
By organizing into carrier-specific groups, property owners insured by the same company are able to share information and educate and support each other throughout a long and challenging process. (Courtesy UP https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/organizing-carrier-specific-fire-survivor-groups)
AAA/CSAA Claimants Email Group
If you are a CSAA/AAA policyholder with a claim for the 2017 Northern California fires and would like to join the AAA policyholder email group (listserv), send an email to email@example.com to register. On this listserv, members share and learn about each other’s claims experiences.
Ameriprise (Costco) Claimants – Looking for a Group
An Ameriprise claimant is looking to join or form a group. Please email Jaime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
California Casualty Claimants Group
California Casualty Insureds believe forming a Group is essential to accomplish full compensation under our policies. We all have lost our homes to the October 9, 2017 Northern California Firestorms. We feel we need shared experiences to understand our Carrier and navigate their “interpretation” of our “policy”. A coordinated Group, like unions, accomplishes more, through common knowledge. You can join simply by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CIG Claimants Group – Looking for a Group
CIG policyholders are looking for a group. If you are looking for a group, know of a group, or are starting a group, please let me know at NeighborsTogetherSR@gmail.com and I will put you in touch with each other.*
Farmers Claimants Group
If you are a Farmers policyholder with a claim for the 2017 Northern California fires and would like to join the Farmers policyholder group, send an email to email@example.com
Hartford Claimants Group
If you are a Hartford policyholder with a claim for the 2017 Northern California fires and would like to join the Hartford policyholder group (listserv), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Liberty Mutual / Safeco Claimants Groups
Liberty Mutual/Safeco Listserv – Helen Greaves – email@example.com
Liberty Mutual/Safeco Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1739259246375652/
Nationwide Claimants Group
The Nationwide group is set up through an easy-to-use app called Slack. Nationwide claimants who wish to join the group can send their email, name, and property address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelers’ Claimants Group
The Traveler’s claimants listserv is set up as a Google Group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/travelersph
State Farm Claimants Email Group
Open only to State Farm insureds with claims arising out of the October 2017 Northern California Firestorms. We share and compare fire claims experiences as we navigate insurance challenges. Contact Vita at VitaTubbsFire@gmail.com if you would like to join.
USAA Claimants Email Group
If you are a USAA policyholder with a claim for the 2017 Northern California fires and would like to join the USAA policyholder email group (listserv), send an email to email@example.com to register. On this listserv, members share and learn about each other’s claims experiences.
* Add your insurance group to this list:
- Email Vita at NeighborsTogetherSR@gmail.com.
- I am the admin of the State Farm group only, and list existing groups and claimants looking to join or form a group as a community service.
- Please direct questions regarding an existing group listed above to the relevant email address listed.
- If you are looking for a group, I will attempt to put you in touch with other claimants by sharing your email addresses with each other.
- I recommend that people create post-fire email addresses to help protect their privacy.
“Orphan” Claimants & Starting a Policyholder Group
- If there are not enough members of a specific insurance carrier to form a group, consider forming a group with other “orphans” or consider approaching an existing group and ask to join.
- Post everywhere that you are looking for or forming a group: NextDoor, your neighborhood email list or website, facebook or other social media, etc. Post every week or every two weeks until you feel you have a large enough group. In my experience, it takes a while for folks to catch on. It is now June, and folks still occasionally reach out to join the State Farm policyholder Group.
- Encourage everyone you know to spread the word and post on their social media.
- I have held up signs at post-fire recovery meetings to let folks know about my State Farm group.
- See https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/organizing-carrier-specific-fire-survivor-groups for United Policyholders tips for forming and running an insurance claimant group
- For smaller groups, you can have an email distribution list or use a free app such as “Slack.com.”
- For larger groups, you can start a “listserv” or use something like Google Groups. Unfortunately, I do not have any recommendations for the “perfect” group communication method.
Connecting Groups Together
- Existing small groups may find a benefit to simply combining into a larger a group.
- As of this writing (June 3, 2018), too many of us, even though connected with a specific-carrier group, are still struggling with our insurance. The groups should connect to see if there are benefits to exchanging relevant information (but not combining into one giant group, which would probably be confusing). I am open to this…but welcome someone else to start this process.
Testimonials – Oct 2017 Sonoma Complex Firestorm State Farm Insureds listserv members discuss the benefits of being in a group:
- This group has been such a huge support for my husband and I. All the info shared has made it a bit easier to sift thru what is right and correct for our situation. I can’t imagine going this alone! There are so many people in this group that know “the ins and outs” of this process. That they could share that info has been such a stress reliever for me.
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- Without previous knowledge or experience, managing any claim with an insurance company will be a losing battle, that is their goal.
- This forum stepped in with support in that matter, that for me personally is impossible to calculate.
- The support went well beyond claims and continues to do so, specifically the emotional support by reading about others similar plights and the victories, one by one, that get posted daily.
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- The insurance companies have a lot of experience, and know exactly what they are doing. An individual is only able to figure out a little bit of the process. When we all contribute what we have figured out, each member of the group is able to compile a much greater understanding of what their policy really means.
- Also, we are able to find out how we are being treated differently. The adjusters are all different, and whether you get a good or bad one is just the luck of the draw. If you get a bad one, you can request another. Without communicating, we would not know this.
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- The amount of support that I have received, and the amount of links (to find other help) that have been provided to me to find my way through this absolute disaster has been essential in helping me cope with the disaster that my life became after the fire.
- The amount of help given to me by this group has helped me grasp a small bit of control of what I previously had prior to the fire of last year.
- Before I had a fairly normal life, and in an evening I had absolutely nothing left. Absolutely NOTHING. I’m not sure how I can stress that enough to you. I don’t believe that I can. It’s as if the world opened up and took everything that you ever had. I have no pictures of my children growing up, no family photographs of my grandparents, not the curls cut from my first haircut that my Mother had saved to give to me when I became an adult or the first curls of my sons that I had saved for him. The picture of me holding my daughter when she was first born. Those are the types of items that are lost to time. So please believe me when I say I have NOTHING.
- What this group has done for me is to have given me a spark to be able to rekindle the fire that one needs to have in their life to continue on. It’s not a touchy feely message board, but one that helps you get through the Legal, Zoning and other types of issues, with some helpful other types of assistance thrown in. It won’t replace the things that have been taken. Nothing will. What this has done is given me the tools to continue on and at least make an attempt to try over.
- There are so many caring people out there that you would never know they existed. It’s amazing, they come out of the woodwork, and they don’t give a damn about whether you’re Black, White, Hispanic, Gay straight or anything in between. In fact I can’t recall a single instance where anyone has ever been asked their race, sexual orientation or political leanings. EVER. At this point in our lives none of that is of any importance. What’s important now is that we all pull together in the same direction, and that direction is to get our lives back on track.
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- I want to ditto everything that others have said before me. Thanks to you all for sharing your stories, helping me to navigate the rebuild process and the State Farm Gauntlet.
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- From the beginning of this event, it has been easy to get lost in the spiral of shock, grief and PTSD resulting from the total loss of home and hearth. This group has provided a bit of balance and grounding in the midst of that turmoil. Every day people asked and answered questions that helped us focus on one step at a time, instead of getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand.
- It’s been quite helpful to have a sense where we are in recovery in relationship to where others are in their process. We’ve appreciated hearing people voice successes and failures in dealing with SF and that has helped shape our conversations with adjusters and contractors and banks.
- I can’t imagine the last 10 months without this group as a resource and as a support group.
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- Everyone in this group have preserved our sanity ever since mid-October last year as soon as we learned about and joined this invaluable website and that of United Policyholders.
- We have been dealing with the State Farm bureaucracy with far more knowledge than we ever could have on our own, and greatly benefited from everyone else’s stories and incredibly helpful advice. And our meeting with NBC Investigates and the broadcast that followed helped us feel we were able to tell truth to power . . .
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- This group has been an invaluable resource for me and my family in helping recover from this fire. The information from others on the site have helped steer us thru the recovery process and go toe to toe with State Farm in recovering our max limits on our insurance policy. It helps when people name names of adjusters and who is helpful and who is not and their experiences along the way.
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Please excuse any typos above; folks kindly spent precious time to type emails quickly, and I haven’t edited the remarks a great deal.
Neighbors Together ~ Strong & Resilient (NTSR) 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 . . . »