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Wildfire Insurance Requirements — Expert Advice | Property Insurance Law Team Blog



Patrick Moffett was at the First Party Claims Conference in Marina Del Rey this week. Another speaker, Matt Blumkin, mentioned Moffett’s 2020 update of a newspaper, Impact assessments of forest fires carried out by an industrial hygienist and other qualified experts. Those who handle fire insurance claims should read and study.

Moffett is recognized as one of the leading experts in assessing forest fires. Only his academic and public service committee work is impressive:

• Consensus bodies developing “Standard for illegal drugs, cannabis, nicotine residues” (IICRC, 2020)
• Committee developing “Standard for Professional Wildfire Restoration”

; (IICRC, 2020)
• Committee developing “Standard for professional fire and smoke damage restoration”
(IICRC, 2019)
• Committee that developed “Fire Loss Specialist” (RIA, 2019)
• Committee that developed ‘Standards for the restoration of buildings affected by combustibles
Particles, ‘(ASHRAE / IAQA / RIA, 2018)
• Committee that developed the ‘Technical Guide for Wildfire Impaction Assessment’ for OEHS
Professional ‘(AIHA, 2018)
• Committee that developed “Standard for professional fire and smoke damage restoration”
(IICRC, 2018)
• Certification group “Content Loss Specialist” (RIA, 2018)
• The “Fire Damage Restoration” certification working group (IICRC, 2014-2018)
• Committee that developed the “Fire and Smoke Damage Certification Program” (IAQA, 2017)
• Previous contributors to:

o IICRC Training Manuals for “Fire and Smoke Restoration” (2005 to 2018)
o ASCR International; National Institute of Disaster Restoration ‘Guidelines for Fire and
Smoke Damage Repair, ‘(1985; 2002)
o IICRC S500 ‘Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration’
o IICRC S520 ‘Standard and reference guide for professional mold remediation’
o IICRC S540 “Standard for the remediation of trauma and crime scene”

The newspaper also has this regarding problems with insurance compensation in the event of a forest fire:

When an insurance claim is filed in a significant Community-wide forest fire, more than likely, the claim cannot be inspected in days or weeks after the forest fire by a company field adjuster, an independent adjuster (IA) or a disaster (CAT) adjuster who may have come from abroad.

ii. Unlike a business adjuster, the IA or CAT adjuster is often a fact collector, who may or may not have claims handling authority. This means that they may not have the authority to instruct the insured what to do, other than to advise them to protect their property as best they can; they will not approve work or pay demands.

iii. According to some state insurance rules, it is up to the insured to protect their property from experiencing further damage, and not the insurer. Therefore, it is the insured’s responsibility to either remediate fire damage, smoke, soot, char and ash as best they can, or to hire remediation companies and restoration contractors who are skilled in the art of removing debris from forest fires, exterior cleaning, interior cleaning and deodorization, including content ( personal belongings) cleaning and deodorization.

b. Documentation:

i. In all insurance claims and settlements, documentation is everything. Even when an adjuster inspects the building, that inspection can be the beginning of the process. The insurer may need to hire others, such as contractors and environmental experts, to inspect and assess damage and impacts, and, if necessary, complete the sampling.

ii. In the event of large or complicated assessments of fire damage, the insured can benefit from obtaining a second statement involving damage to their property, including the presence of environmental pollutants from burned adjacent buildings. It is important to document why the indoor air quality is poor to unacceptable, and document with pictures and videos at a distance and close-ups, including 2-D and 3-D Matterport scan (a tour) of the interior and exterior, including the placement of furniture, antiques , musical instruments, art, etc., can be helpful in substantiating claims.

iii. In order to maintain the integrity of the insurance claim with the support of creditworthy, verifiable documentation, a visual inspection and assessment, photos and Matterport should be filled in as close to the time of the loss as possible.

The bottom line is that this is an excellent read for practical information after a loss of a forest fire.

For public adjusters, I also suggest you read a post by Dan Veroff, Wildfire Claim Adjustment Tips for Public Adjusters.

Today’s thoughts

We must be careful, we can not let negativity spread like wildfire.
– Saswata Chatterjee


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