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Here's a tip for helping with your personal property inventory using the information they store in their system. Call stores and financial institutions which you had a previous relationship with immediately to request purchase histories or copies of statements. Do this as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more of the pre-disaster purchasing history is lost. Some examples are:
  • Companies for which you have a frequent buyer card. Many companies keep detailed information on file for much longer than you would expect.
  • If you are a member at a warehouse store, ask them for a copy of your purchase history.
  • Call any company you have made a major purchase with and ask for receipts (and today’s full retail price).
  • If you purchased items online, many times that information will be stored in your account for quite a while as well.
  • Call your credit card company and/or bank and ask for back statements (or download them from their website and store them before they "disappear". Request a waiver for any fees due to the circumstances. If they will not budge, make sure to keep a record of the costs and claim it as part of your ALE coverage.
  • For major purchases charged to a credit card, the issuing bank can request a copy of the receipt from the company you purchased the item from.
After a large scale disaster much of the attention goes to people who had total losses. We have seen those with less than total losses often take a back seat, reasoning that people with much greater losses deserve the attention.  People with partial losses often just don’t ask for all the help they could.
 
Homeowners with partial losses face issues that those with total losses do not. For example, deductibles are clearly applied, reducing the amount of insurance settlement. For homeowners with a total loss (or with a loss above an amount stated in the policy), the deductible is usually waived (by being absorbed in the excess loss), but it might not be waived for a partial loss.
 
Such was the case with a family that contacted us who had a partial fire loss due to the 2007 San Diego Wildfires. Their insurer was among the insurance companies who had sued SDG&E for their fires through a SUBROGRATION action. Subrogation is a contractual policy right that allows an insurance company to sue an entity that caused a loss for which the insurance company paid the insured.
 
Since their insurer had recovered the deductible amounts from SDG&E, the family believed that the deductible money should be returned to them. While the family felt they were properly compensated for their loss, they still had a monetary loss due to the deductible the insurance company had applied to their partial loss. $2,500, was a substantial loss to the family, but too little to involve a lawyer. Their insurance company refused to return the deductible even though the insurance company had collected the money from SDG&E in the subrogation process.
 
If you find yourself in this situation here are some steps you can take to recover the money without using an attorney. The first step is to make a simple phone inquiry (with your policy name, number and claim number available) regarding the return of your deductible. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to develop a paper trail. Without any threat of litigation, in a certified letter, respectfully request that the deductible be returned. If the company refuses, request a written response explaining the company’s refusal. Keep track of every phone call made, including the date, the name of the person you spoke to and a summary of what the person said. If you meet with resistance, ask for a supervisor.
 
In anticipation that the insurance company will quote some part of the insurance policy as a reason for non-reimbursement, we suggest requesting a copy of the full policy. If you do not have a complete copy of your policy this request should be done immediately and in writing in a separate letter.
 
The next step is to get a copy of your state’s Insurance code which is available online and locate any regulations specifically related to this topic. California’s Fair Claims Act includes this regulation (emphasis added).
 
§ 2695.7. (q) "Every insurer that makes a subrogation demand shall include in every demand the first party claimant's deductible. Every insurer shall share subrogation recoveries on a proportionate basis with the first party claimant, unless the first party claimant has otherwise recovered the whole deductible amount. No insurer shall deduct legal or other expenses from the recovery of the deductible unless the insurer has retained an outside attorney or collection agency to collect that recovery. The deduction may only be for a pro rata share of the allocated loss adjustment expense. This subsection shall not apply when multiple policies have been issued to the insured(s) covering the same loss and the language of these contracts prescribe alternative subrogation rights."
http://www.caiia.com/pdf/fcspr_clean.pdf
 
 
This chart outlines each state’s subrogation laws. Please note that some states have different laws regarding reclaiming the deductible for Auto and Property losses:
 
The last resort is a lawsuit. Since any withheld deductible is usually under $7,500, a homeowner should consider an action in Small Claims Court. Any legal case is made stronger based on pertinent evidence. In this case, correspondence you had with your insurance company, including the phone call and email log, a copy of your state’s regulation and any  available information regarding your insurance company’s subrogation settlement.
 
In the example of the family who contacted us, it took about a month of communications and finding the right person within the insurance company. Eventually the family located the subrogation department where the homeowner was finally told they would get their deductible reimbursed. We encourage anyone in a similar situation to contact your insurance company to claim any deductible funds the insurance company may have collected and withheld from you.

The Fired Up Sisters have organized a special deal on authentic Tempurpedic mattresses. The deal is extremely good, but there are limitations so please be aware of them before you commit.

  • The mattresses are free, but you do have to pay the shipping as follows: King: $250 Queen: $200 Full: $150 Twin: $100
  • When the mattresses are shipped they will be delivered to a warehouse in Rancho Bernardo (North of San Diego). It will be your responsibility to pick them up.
  • A shipment is 80 mattresses so we must find a home for that many before an order can be placed.
  • Checks are the preferred method of payment. They would be made out to "Fired up Sisters".
  • The mattresses are not used but they may be a return. Most are stock rotation and model changes.
  • We have received three shipments over the last five years and all of them have been in good condition.
  • In the past the mattresses have been delivered without the terrycloth cover generally associated with the Tempurpedic brand as to discourage misuse of the program.
  • They are as-is and not returnable or subject to the standard Tempurpedic warranty.
  • Even though there are several Tempurpedic models available on their website, there has been no discernible differences in the mattresses in past deliveries and the type of mattresses delivered is not guaranteed.
  • Payment is not required until 80 reservations have been made.

There is no guarantee that they will have enough demand to fill an entire order of 80 mattresses. At this point they have 50 reservations, so when they get to the 80 mattress minimum they can place the order. There is no guarantee of the delivery date. They waited a long time for the last delivery, but if you want a Tempurpedic mattress the deal is worth the wait! 

If you decide you want a mattress just email Joann at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let her know what you want!

For more information about the Fired Up Sisters, please check out their website at http://firedupsisters.org 

 

Last fall here in San Diego I smelled the all-too familiar smell of wildfire smoke. I went outside and looked around and didn't see anything pressing, but the smell worried me. I went inside and turned on the radio and TV and didn't see or hear anything about currently burning fires. I went on a couple of news websites including CalFire, but still nothing.

Then something made me remember Twitter. Remember the Miracle on the Hudson that was famously first reported by a bystander on Twitter? I went to my twitter account, did a search for "San Diego Fire" and immediately found that it was a fire in Tijuana. Someone had even posted a picture of the fire.

Then we had the region wide blackout. Again, twitter on my smart phone was the first source of information, although having that battery/solar/crank powered radio helped once the radio broadcasters caught on and cell towers ran out of batteries. 

My point here is that everyone should have a Twitter account in case of emergency. During an evacuation is not the time to create an account and try to install the app on your cell phone. Install it, follow a few people and be familiar with how to search for information in case of an emergency.

Of course there is always the caveat to beware of this type of information based on the source. In fact this article states the following about news from Twitter:

"There is valuable information being tweeted. The constant flow of information over Twitter and Facebook makes professional news sites pale in their ability to break important news. You aren’t necessarily looking for trusted sources when you rely on Twitter for information, you are looking for speed." 

To help you get started we have created a few lists that might be helpful. You can follow the lists directly and if we find new sources of information to follow you will also be immediately updated. Be aware that we are planning on adding other Southern California areas, but take a look at the lists we currently have here:

https://twitter.com/#!/CAReHelpInc/lists 

And if you know an entity on Twitter who has great, disaster relevant updates, let us know!

I found this disaster preparedness blog that has a great series of articles on getting prepared. Check it out!

http://readynutrition.com/resources/52-weeks-to-preparedness-an-introduction_19072011/ 

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Testimonials

No words can fully express how much we appreciate all your efforts to deal with our insurance company. We truly would be lost without your help.

Grass Fire Survivor, 2007