Most homeowners and commercial insurance policies contains exclusions for loss or damages caused by mudflow or other similar occurrences. An example of on such exclusion is included below:

b. Earth Movement and Settlement, meaning earthquake, which includes land shock wavers or tremors before, during or after a volcanic eruption; landslide; mudflow; sinkhole; earth sinking, rising or shifting; clay shrinkage or other expansion or contraction of soils or organic materials; decay of buried or organic materials; setline cracking or expansion of foundation;

Continue Reading California Mudslide Exclusions Unenforceable Where Wildfires Caused Slide

Southern Californians impacted by the mudslides that followed the devastating wildfires in Ventura and Santa Barbara may see some light at the end of the tunnel with the big question of whether insurers will cover their mudslide loss. Over the last few week Californians have lost their homes when the rains brought homes down from the mountainsides ravaged by fire. With the vegetation gone, the hills and mountains simply could not hold during the heavy rains and mud flowed downhill at 20 miles per hour at what witnesses can only call a “wall of mud” that consumed homes and lives within its path. For many, this meant losing all worldly possessions when their houses slid down the hillside and were buried in mud. Even the ability to rebuild in the area is a question for many.
Continue Reading California Department of Insurance Provides Notice that Mudslides are Covered Losses

California State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones recently posted a bulletin urging insurance companies to provide North Bay fire victims up to 100% of their personal property coverage limits by not requiring the insured to fill out a detailed inventory.
Continue Reading California State Insurance Commissioner Issues Helpful Bulletin for Insureds

The buzz amongst policyholders about what insurance owe for additional living expenses due to the Northern California Wildfires is still going strong as Southern California braces this week for Santa Ana winds. With predicted gusts up to 70 mph, Southern Californians are in real danger of the potential for wildfires. Recently, I’ve received quite a few calls from victims of the Northern California wildfires asking what their rights are under their additional living expenses portion of their insurance policies. Most policies limit policyholders to one year of additional living expenses (ALE) or the reasonable time to rebuild. In the recent Northern California wildfires, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency which means that every policyholder with proper additional living expense coverage under their policy has an extension of an additional year for ALE.
Continue Reading California Wildfires Declared State of Emergency – How Does That Impact My Additional Living Expenses?

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

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

In Northern California, more than a dozen wildfires that began on Sunday are still raging. These fires have become one of the deadliest outbreaks in the state’s history, already burning through more than 100,000 acres, destroying thousands of homes, businesses, and wineries. Growing up visiting family in the Bay Area often, and attending law school in San Francisco, I am saddened to see friends and families on social media grappling with the devastation.
Continue Reading Will Insurance Companies Fairly Adjust Claims Following Recent California Fires?

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