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Fires raise questions on home insurance

September 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many comapnies are cutting back on home insurance coverage, while raising deductibles and premiums. If you haven't reviewed your policy recently, especially in light of the recent wildfires, then now is the time to do it. Eyewitness News teamed up with Consumer Reports to conduct a poll of homeowners, and found that many of them are unhappy with their insurance coverage, even from some of the biggest names in the business.

For disasters like the Station Fire, where thousands of acres burned and dozens of homes were destroyed, you truly need reliable insurance for your home. But a Consumer Reports survey on insuring your home shows that many people don't.

"The problems included delayed payments, payouts that were smaller than expected, and some claims that were denied entirely," said Tobie Stanger from Consumer Reports.

Those who reported the most problems with claims were insured with Farmers Insurance, Allstate, and Travelers -- all major insurance carriers. And Consumer Reports finds that many insurance companies are cutting back coverage.

"Some are imposing high deductibles for windstorm damage. You might not be covered any longer for mold or dog bites. So you better check your policy to see what's covered," said Stanger.

The key is asking your insurer exactly what coverage you'll have if your house is destroyed. And don't forget to make sure all of your personal property inside your home is covered too.

"Insurers are cutting back here, too. Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage, which pays the total bill to rebuild regardless of the price is very hard to get, and where it's available, it's very expensive," said Stanger.

Consumer Reports recommends comparison shopping for insurance every five years. You should also check that the policy includes adjustments for inflation.

Right now getting an upgrade on your fire insurance may take a little more time. With the recent fires many insurance companies are putting new insurance coverage on hold until they determine their total losses.

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