Quality Claims Management Corp. reports that most of the homeowners whose property was destroyed or damaged in the 2007 Southern California wildfires have not yet been able to rebuild their homes.
‘Out of the San Diego County residents who lost their homes in 2007, we have found that only about half of the homeowners have broken ground and started their rebuild process,’ says Ron Reitz, president of San Diego-based Quality Claims Management, a provider of hazard claim recovery services.
Amy Bach, executive director of nonprofit consumer rights group Unity Policyholders, says 75% of the wildfire victims were underinsured by an average of $250,000. "Insurance money is the No. 1 thing people need to get back home after a catastrophic loss, but it often takes a lot of work to get paid in full," she says.
Quality Claims Management suggests one of the main drivers for why many homeowners have been unable to rebuild is because insurance companies originally low-balled the estimated amount it would take to rebuild.
"When insureds receive a lowball estimate and realize it is not enough, they then must renegotiate with the insurance companies, which often means bringing in legal professionals and public adjusters. This results in even more delays to the rebuilding process," says a company statement from Quality Claims Management.
"We have found that it often takes two to three years for a claim to be fully settled," says Reitz. "Once the insurance negotiations have been settled, it can take a year or more to have the home rebuilt and the family be able to move back in."
SOURCE: Quality Claims Management Corp.