In these drought-stricken times, many parts of California are at high risk for wildfires. These catastrophic blazes cause billions in property damage and other losses across the state. People often lose their homes, businesses and possessions. Many California residents and businesses carry fire insurance, but due to the way policies are written and applied, it is sometimes difficult to get insurers to pay the fair value of legitimate claims after a wildfire-related loss.

Not all wildfire losses involve buildings burning to the ground. A high percentage of claimed losses result from smoke damage to structures and personal property. Smoke damage can leave buildings uninhabitable and make the property within unusable. Another common type of loss is damage caused by water and chemicals used in firefighting. Losses from wildfires may include vehicles, household furnishings, equipment and tools of one’s trade. Farmers and ranchers may lose crops, livestock and agricultural equipment. In the worst cases, people sustain serious and permanent injuries or die.

In response to the high incidence of wildfires in California in recent years and the consequential rise in insurance claims, some insurance companies have used dubious measures to try to minimize payouts. Carriers have added vague or confusing policy language that creates coverage exclusions. Insurers also often make “lowball” offers to settle wildfire damage cases. Since many claimants don’t have the time, energy or resources to argue over coverage, insurers often get policyholders to settle for less than the fair value of their claims.

Wildfire tragedies can leave people physically, emotionally and financially vulnerable. Dealing with a complicated insurance claim on your own after such a traumatic event is burdensome and very likely ineffectual. A qualified fire claims attorney can determine what claims may be available and how much they may be worth and can work to obtain the compensation you are entitled to. An attorney can also fight insurance company attempts to deny or devalue your claim.

Located in Santa Cruz, California, Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP provides a wide range of legal services, including fire insurance claims litigation. Our attorneys work diligently to obtain for our clients the maximum benefits due under their policies, taking insurers to court if necessary. If you or a family member is a victim of wildfire or other insured loss, feel free to contact us online or call 831-515-3344 for an initial consultation.

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