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California Regulators Warn Of Insurance Scams In Fire Zones

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A home in Middletown, Calif., damaged by the Valley Fire.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Hundreds of Californians whose properties have been damaged or destroyed by this summer’s wildfires must now work with insurance companies to rebuild their homes and lives – and state regulators are warning them to watch for scams.

If there’s someone waiting at your home when you return after an evacuation is lifted, and they offer to help you get more money from your insurance company, they’re committing a felony. California law requires independent claims adjusters to wait seven days after a loss before approaching a property owner.

Nancy Kincaid with the Department of Insurance says you can certainly hire an independent adjuster – if you want.

“There are some people who believe you can do better in your settlement with an insurance company using an independent adjuster,“ she says. “But what some people don’t realize is that you pay for that adjuster’s services – it ranges between usually 15-to-18 percent of your total claim payout.”

Kincaid says if you don’t want to hire an independent adjuster but you’re confused or dissatisfied with your insurer’s offer, the Department of Insurance can help.

 wildfire

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio