The California landscape has changed dramatically from when I was a child growing up in Southern California. The population boom that California experienced with the dot.com companies (in Northern California) and the extensive building of homes in Southern California have changed the landscape forever. Despite all these changes, I love living in California and have the privilege of practicing law here.
Californians are plagued not only with earthquakes, but also windstorms, rainstorms, wildfires and landslides. Homeownership and the cost of homeowner’s insurance in California come at a high price. In October 2007, California was engulfed in epic wildfires that ravaged whole communities and destroyed the lives of many. In the years following the wildfires, the same communities suffered catastrophic rainstorms and landslides.
Years after the 2007 catastrophic wildfires, rainstorms and landslides, many homeowners are still struggling to rebuild. It is a difficult road to rebuild and put a life back together when everything a person owns is destroyed. Unfortunately, many homeowner victims did not have experience in filing claims, and, although some insurance companies paid expediently and fairly, many Californians are still fighting an uphill battle on denied, delayed or partially paid claims. These homeowners may have bad faith claims against their insurance companies. Depending on a homeowner’s written insurance policy or the statutes, homeowners must file their lawsuits in a timely manner or their rights will expire.
Homeowners cannot control how an insurer adjusts a claim, but a homeowner should seek legal advice when:
- their claim is denied outright after a catastrophe;
- there is significant delay in adjusting the loss;
- an appraisal is denied;
- the adjusting does not conform with the written policy between the homeowner and the insurer.
As the four (4) year anniversary of the October 2007 California wildfires approaches, homeowners should evaluate whether they received the maximum benefit of their policies or if a new claim or a reopen claim on the policy should be considered.