All states have unique insurance laws following disasters. Many important rights and options are not contained in the insurance contract. California wildfire victims and policyholders are discovering first-hand that some insurance adjusters are not being honest or upfront regarding their rights following the 2017 wildfires. Continue Reading California Wildfire Victims and Policyholders Need Information About Their Claims Rights

Merlin Law Group is co-counsel with a very fine San Francisco based law firm, Levin Simes. We filed a wildfire lawsuit on behalf of a vineyard yesterday. It is hard to describe the devastation and magnitude of these fires, but our complaint noted in part:

The North Bay Fires are some of the most destructive fires in California’s history. In just a week, the fires caused the deaths of at least 43 people, displaced about 100,00 people who were forced to leave their homes and search for safety, burned over 200,000 acres and destroyed at least 8,000 homes and buildings. In particular, the Tubbs fire destroyed approximately five percent of Santa Rosa’s housing stock, burned over 36,000 acres across two counties and killed at least 19 individuals. Continue Reading Wildfire Lawsuit Filed in California and Thanksgiving Day 2017

The recent fires in Napa Valley and Sonoma, California present numerous issues for homeowners and business owners alike when it comes to navigating insurance claims. Questions arise as to what coverages are provided under a given insurance policy, how determinations on what is owed are made, what are the options on rebuilding, loss of income or extra expenses, coverage for damaged vines and wine, business interruption, and additional living expenses. This last topic was recently covered in a blog post by Denise Sze entitled, California Wildfires Bring the Need for Additional Living Expense Payments of Insurance Proceeds.

The issues facing wineries affected by the recent fires are complex. From coverage issues related to crop insurance, building damage, loss of business income, and loss of business personal property, Merlin Law Group and Levin Simes have teamed up and are offering a free Information Meeting on Monday, November 13, 2017 from 2:00-4:00p.m. at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, California, to answer questions wineries may have regarding their insurance claims.

We will be joined by Anita Oberholster, Ph.D, who will be discussing the impact of the recent fires and smoke damage on grapes and wine qualities, and insurance brokers Blake Longo and Mike Applegate to discuss specific insurance issues. Russell Kranzler, CPA, will also address issues related to business interruption.

If you are a winery or business impacted by the recent fires, we invite you to attend.

Last Thursday, October 26, 2017, I had the privilege to be on KSRO 1350 AM/103.5 FM, Sonoma County’s News Talk Radio Morning News, to discuss the wildfire aftermath as communities are looking to begin rebuilding their lives with their insurance proceeds. Continue Reading California Wildfires Bring the Need for Additional Living Expense Payments of Insurance Policy Proceeds


Chase Mathis

Chase Mathis called me on Tuesday morning as soon as my plane touched down in New Jersey to ask if he could be interviewed by a San Francisco radio station about the insurance issues those suffering from the California wildfires were facing. He explained the radio station called and wanted him to answer certain questions about insurance issues facing California wineries and policyholders. While Chase is a young star attorney in the Merlin Law Group, he is also located in New Jersey and has not litigated losses in California. So, I said “sure, but be certain to pull all the research our firm has been doing over the last couple of weeks regarding this disaster before the interview.” Continue Reading California Wildfire Insurance Questions, Claims and Recovery

My colleague Denise Sze recently blogged about the Butte and Valley wildfires. More than 5,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Indeed, many residents face a painful road to recovery.

Last week, to increase the speed of the recovery process for wildfire victims, California Insurance Commissioner Jones obtained agreements from several insurance companies to adopt various claims handling reforms.

Continue Reading Voluntary Claims Handling Reforms for Wildfires Promoted by California Insurance Commissioner

California wildfires continue to rage through this unseasonably hot summer. The concern that plagues this drought stricken state lies in the fact that not only is water so precious and scarce, our official fire season has barely begun. On September 9, 2015, the Butte fire erupted and it has destroyed over 800 structures, including 475 homes. At one point, the evacuation order affected over 6,500 homes. The devastation of the fire has barely begun as residents are still barred from returning home, and for those in the fire zones, the impending prospect of El Nino storms this winter will undoubtedly create reconstruction delays and cause terrible mudslide issues in the fire ravaged terrain.

Continue Reading California Wildfires Give Rise to Claims that Must Be Reported Without Delay

Wildfire cases are unique and have many evidentiary issues. Public adjusters have been making claims for damage by fire, heat, and especially smoke. State Farm and its able trial counsel successfully appear to be fighting back in Falcon v State Farm Lloyds.1

Continue Reading Wildfire and Smoke Claims – A Case Burning With Issues That Public Adjusters Should Study

Recently, California had record breaking temperatures that brought on the perfect conditions for wildfires to spread quickly. Southern California had high winds and temperatures up to 100 degrees sustained over a course of three or more days. Last week, I returned to San Diego to visit my family, only to see some of the damage caused by the San Marcos and Tomahawk fires. Driving through North County, it reminded me of the 2007 wildfires. However, thankfully, the recent fires did not lead to the same number of evacuations and total losses. Still, some of the fires continue to rage and as a Southern Californian, I send out a very heartfelt “thank you” to our firefighters who continue to work tirelessly to save our homes.

Continue Reading Recent California Wildfires Bring to Light Insurance Policy Changes Imposed After the 2007 and 2009 Wildfires