Held Saturday, September 5th, 2020
We have gathered together the following recommendations to the best of our recollections. Some concepts apply both for a homeowner who has damages and those who lost their home, while some are just for those that actually lost their home.
NOTE: Links to event videos, handouts and other documents are at the end of this webpage.
Keep all receipts and get a spiral notebook for a diary. This may be important if you should need extensions to County, insurance and IRS/FTB time limits.
Check out www.uphelp.org. This is an amazing non-profit resource for all aspects of fire recovery.
If you have had over $10k in fire damage to your home, file a Calamity relief/deferral of regular Secured taxes with Assessors office www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/default.aspx?tabid=2160
Order a CERTIFIED copy of your insurance policy which is now a contract with your insurance company. Your actual policy is many more pages than the 3-4 page recap you have in your files. There may be endorsements issued that you are not aware of that can increase your coverage in any of the 4 policy categories.
Greenspan Public Adjusters can help you complete your claim in a manner most favorable to you. Greenspan is paid by charging a % of your settlement. Usually they can obtain a significantly larger settlement that pays for their services.
Four "buckets" of coverage:
- Dwelling (septic system/wells damages can be argued as part of your dwelling coverage per Greenspan Public Adjusters)
- Extended coverage - this covers anything not part of your dwelling - detached decks, gazebos, playhouses, landscaping ($500 per tree/bush?) fences, retaining walls, steps, walkways, driveways, and the like
- Personal Property - If you shake your house upside down, anything that falls out is personal property. The average home has 3500-4000 items. Warranties, taxes, set up fees are all to be included. You do not need receipts. The goal is to have a claim $$ higher than your limits so you get your full policy limit after depreciation. Depreciation is negotiable.
- Loss of Use - What are your policy limits? Are evacuation expenses subject to your deductible and/or time limits? Review your policy. Friends and family are allowed to charge you for your stay and you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Your family or friend will receive a 1099 next year. How much can they charge you? Is it based on # of people, # of rooms used? Pets? What about food purchased, needed replacement items (toothbrushes et) gasoline to travel to evacuation housing. What is the difference between evac expenses and loss of use while your property is being rehabilitated? Start with your agent, then your adjuster, then confirm with Greenspan Public Adjusters if you choose.
Have Disaster Kleenup Specialists out asap. (www.disasterkleen.com main office: 831-899-3938) They do a interior to exterior, top to bottom property evaluation for no charge. They subcontract for any specialty testing that might be needed (lead paint, asbestos, water damage) and work directly with your insurance company for the authorization, testing, treatments, and repairs.
Schedule the Resource Conservation District for property conservation recommendations. Protect your property for the coming winter. This is a free service and is not reported to any County agency. This evaluation is not as simple as it sounds. They are very experienced in erosion control, stream contamination, drainage and other aspects of property preservation. Their mantra is "Do no harm". Do not do what your neighbor is doing or what you read on the internet i.e. straw bales etc. - it may be exactly the wrong thing. There are some grants available for the SLV for private road and culvert repairs. Should the County require a erosion control plan for rebuilding, you will already have one.
Consider meeting the Hogan Land Services - email@example.com (Mike) / https://hoganls.com / 1-877-544-2104 "We'll get the Permit"
Jordan Bergstrom is an independent insurance agent that writes for many national insurance companies beyond the most familiar ones that you may already have received a cancellation notice from. His contact information is: firstname.lastname@example.org, 831-359-6535.
Randy Reynolds CPA for Reynolds Group, a Tax Management firm in Scotts Valley email@example.com / 831-438-0408 Because this is a federally declared disaster area, the IRS gives you 4 years to rebuild your house. You have two choices on what to do with your insurance proceeds 1) take our insurance proceeds, payoff your loan and do nothing and in this case, in the eyes of the IRS you have essentially "sold" your house. Your capital gains tax will be calculated as before including the $250 per person /$500k per couple capital gains exclusion you are entitled to. 2) Rebuild Since this is what is called an involuntary conversion, you do not have to rebuild your home here - you can go to "Arizona" and purchase another home and not have it be considered a taxable sale. There is a more complicated Casualty Loss discussion about an uninsured losses. Listen to the video and seek professional advice.
American Red Cross provides housing, comfort and food. All are welcome to come by the shelter for food and to pick up donations. Red Cross has prescription & glasses replacements, mental health care and spiritual services, N95 masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes, water available which especially important when returning to impacted properties.
View Part 1 video on YouTube:
Handouts from the event and other documents:
Thank You Fire, Police and All First Responders!