Prevent payout delays with these smart and simple moves
The October wildfires in California wine country destroyed more than 7,200 homes and other buildings, according to the latest estimate by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Now, as wildfire victims begin the long road to recovery, they, like the hurricane victims before them, must deal with homeowners insurance claims.
One of the first surprises is that if you have significant damage and a mortgage on your home, the insurance settlement check will usually be made out to you and the mortgage lender, which means both have to sign it.
That adds extra steps that can delay rebuilding and repairs. Still more delays can arise if the lender is slow to release funds from an escrow account, where insurance proceeds are usually held to pay contractors.
Ordinarily, insurance payout money flows smoothly. But delays “can be a big problem” in the wake of a natural disaster, says Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that gives advice on insurance claims to consumers, often right at the post-disaster scene of wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes.