Fire Resources Recovery Event
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
They will send you copies of your Assessors records which will be need for rebuilding.
Hint: When emailing with the County use the word "Fire" in the subject line.


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.

Inform your insurance company you will be submitting a claim.  Do this in writing via the corporate portal and save every communication.  NO TEXTING with your adjusters. Be sure and memorialize any phone conversations with your adjuster via the corporate email portal immediately after your conversation.

You will have changing adjusters assigned to you throughout the process and you will need to document what has already been said and done. Verify the date your "rebuild time" begins with your insurer. It likely will be when you first receive a claim payment which in some cases could be as much as a year or more. 

Do not submit claim or accept a settlement offer until you are sure you have it all correct - consider having having Greenspan Insurance Adjusters (www.greenspanai.com) prepare your claim on your behalf.The personal property component of the claim can be a 2"-3" thick binder. The insurance company's goal is to pay you the least they can. The out-of-state adjusters working on the insurance company's behalf may not be 100% familiar with your policy terms either even though they work for your company, even understand nuances of local items (for example full size clearheart redwood vs new redwood boards available today).

 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.

Angie Gruys from the Resource Conservation District.  agruys@rcdsantacruz.org  www.rcdsantacurz.org/fire is a great contact. She can put you in touch with the federal guy who specializes in post fire recovery and lives in SC.  (Richard Cassale) He is all over the state so it may take some time to get him out.


Consider meeting the Hogan Land Services - mhogan1@hoganls.com (Mike) / https://hoganls.com / 1-877-544-2104  "We'll get the Permit"

Hogan offers a free 30 minute consultation and help you develop a custom wildfire recovery plan. For a total loss of your home you will need a septic evaluation to verify that the system components are still intact.  For homes that did not burn it is not required but any damage may be a part of your insurance claim.  Depending on your proximity to the fire, portions of your system may be damaged i.e. at grade riser lids, leach field stand pipes, shallow tanks may be be partially melted. They have staff to evaluate if your foundation is re-usable. They are able to manage the entire rebuild permit process.


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:  jordan@insurecompanion.com, 831-359-6535.


Randy Reynolds CPA for Reynolds Group,  a Tax Management firm in Scotts Valley  randy@reynoldsgroupcpa.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: 
https://youtu.be/gUYeZ97SPTw
View Part 2 video on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/wywmJ_w6GMI
CENTURY 21 Showcase, REALTORS® - Scotts Valley Facebook videos of event:
https://www.facebook.com/C21ScottsValleyRealEstate/videos/
Century 21 Showcase, REALTORS® - Boulder Creek Facebook videos of event:
https://www.facebook.com/C21SanLorenzoValleyRealEstate/videos/

Handouts from the event and other documents:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1QzFCjXHbe7K_uKzKsWOBk4cfasi0ZwWX?usp=sharing



#SLVStrong
Thank You Fire, Police and All First Responders!