(LOS ANGELES, Sept. 1, 2009) – Southern California wildfires have caused thousands of home evacuations and are continuing to endanger additional neighborhoods. The Automobile Club of Southern California is advising residents to prepare for possible evacuation if they live near the wildfire areas.
Auto Club policyholders with claims should call (800) 67-CLAIM or (800) 672-5246.
Do not delay obeying an evacuation order to pack items in your car, but if you have time prior to an order, and because you may be out of your home for a few days, the Auto Club recommends placing the following emergency items in your vehicle:
- State and local maps
- Cell phone car charger
- Fully equipped first aid kit
- First aid manual
- Prescription medicine
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable foods
- Extra clothes and shoes
- Tissues, pre-moistened towels, and toiletries
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb
- Pocket radio and extra batteries
- Small tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, wire, pocket knife, can opener, duct tape)
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding evacuations:
Question: How can I find real-time information on road closures?
Answer: For up to date information on state highway closures, visit the California Department of Transportation online or call 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).
Question: Where can I find the most recent information about emergency shelters?
Answer: If you are in need of emergency shelter, water, or food, please call 1-800-REDCROSS, visit the Red Cross Greater Los Angeles chapter online or find your local Red Cross chapter online.
Question: I'm having trouble finding a hotel with availability; what can I do?
Answer: If you need help finding a hotel, call our reservations number at 1-877-222-1020 or use the Auto Club’s online travel booking service. Auto Club travel agents have access to the most up-to-date information on hotel availability and can assist you immediately.
Question: I want to let my family know I'm safe, but I'm having a hard time getting in touch with them. What can I do?
Answer: People affected by the wildfires are encouraged to register themselves on the Red Cross Safe and Well Website. People without access to a computer or without electricity or connectivity can call the Red Cross (1-800-REDCROSS) for help registering, or register a loved one on their behalf.
Question: I am concerned about the safety of friends and family members who have been evacuated. What can I do?
Answer: Family members and friends can log on to the Red Cross Safe and Well Website and search for registered individuals to learn of their whereabouts and status. Families can also designate a contact person outside the danger region who can serve as a check-in person when family members are separated.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Auto Club insurance claims:
Question: If I have to leave my home due to the fires, even if it is not ultimately damaged, are my hotel expenses covered?
Answer: The Auto Club’s homeowners, condominium owners, and renters policies all provide coverage for additional living expense when a civil authority has ordered you out of your home. This coverage provides for not just hotel expenses, but any reasonable and necessary costs that you actually incur including food and clothing that you may need to purchase. This coverage is provided for up to a two-week period during the time the authorities do not allow you to return to your home.
Question: What do I need to do to file a claim?
Answer: To get the process started all you need to do is to call our Claims Department, see a claims adjuster at an evacuation center or visit a nearby Auto Club district office. You can also reach us by telephone by calling 1-800-67-CLAIM or 1-800-672-5246.
Question: If the power has been out due to the fires and the food in my refrigerator spoils, do I have coverage?
Answer: Yes. Your policy provides up to $500 in coverage for damage or spoilage of perishable foods that are kept in your refrigerator or freezer in your home.
Question: If the fire destroys the trees, shrubs, plants, or lawn on my home's property, is there any coverage?
Answer: Yes. Your policy provides additional insurance for plant materials. It is limited to 5% of your Coverage A (Dwelling) with a limit of not more than $500 for any one tree, shrub or plant. So if your home is insured for $150,000, you can get up to $7,500 coverage for all of your trees, shrubs, plants, or lawn.
Question: Do I have coverage for smoke damage?
Answer: Your policy does cover your property that has actually been damaged by soot or smoke residue. Just a smoky smell in the home is not enough, but if soot or smoke residue adheres to your property you might have coverage.
Question: I don’t have my policy number. I left it at home. Is that going to be a problem?
Answer: Don’t worry about providing your policy number. All we need to get started is the address of the insured property and your phone number.
Question: Can I file my claim online?
Answer: Yes, you can start the claim process online by emailing our Claims Department. In order to help us get started, please include your home address, two phone numbers where we can reach you immediately, and a brief description of what has happened (fire damage, smoke damage, water damage, wind damage, evacuation expenses, etc.).