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The blaze in California, named the Colby fire, has taken it’s toll on the landscape by destroying five homes, damaging several other structures, and forcing approximately 3600 residents to evacuate for safety purposes on Thursday, January 16th. The wildfire was allegedly accidentally started by three campers in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The wildfire has already blackened more than 1700 acres of land and smoke from the wildfire has reached across Los Angeles. Roughly 700 firefighters fought to keep the flames down and the fire from spreading. (Massive Wildfires Near Los Angeles Were Started By Clumsy Campers (Who Have Been Arrested): Business Insider, January 17, 2014).

“The National Weather Service said a red-flag warning of extreme fire danger was in effect much of the week and would remain in place until Friday evening because of low humidity and the chance of the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds gusting to 30 mph in the foothills and canyons,” (Crews Chase Flare-Ups in California Fire: ABC News, January 16, 2014).

The Santa Ana winds bring warm, dry conditions, which have been made worse by drought. According to the LA Times, Governor Jerry Brown of Californiaofficially declared a drought emergency last Friday morning in order to obtain federal assistance with water transfers along with financial aid. Many evacuees have been allowed to return home since the fire has largely been contained but Gov. Brown has asked citizens to ration their water carefully for the foreseeable future. (LA Times, Gov. Jerry Brown declares drought emergency in California, January 17, 2014)

“With the current drought emergency in California, the dry temperatures may bring more wildfires in the future,” warns Frank N. Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer. “Homeowners should be prepared for any eventuality, including the distinct possibility that their house may be damaged or burned to the ground. It’s not a happy image, but having homeowner’s insurance can greatly reduce the cost of rebuilding if the worst happens.”

The importance of verifying state by state coverage for specific disasters is essential, since some disaster coverage, like flood and earthquake insurance, needs to be purchased separately. “All property insurance policies provide coverage for losses resulting from fires. Depending on the level of exposure, you may need to consider a higher deductible to obtain coverage, or to keep it affordable. Most states have coverage available via the FAIR plan, or a JUA, if the voluntary market is not willing to provide coverage,” (Insurance Coverage: Know your Choices: Homeowner’s Insurance Guide, January 17, 2014).

Both disability insurance and life insurance can be beneficial in the face of an emergency. So far, one person has sustained burns while trying to fight the fire near their home. There is a distinct possibility that the injuries may keep the individual out of work for an unknown amount of time. The money received from a disability insurance policy may cover the groceries and regular monthly bills until that person can get back to work. Life insurance is an excellent investment in areas more likely to be affected by natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes or tornadoes. What happens if the breadwinner of the family dies while protecting their home from a wildfire? Life insurance will be there to help cover the cost of day-to-day necessities until another source of income can be found.

“Natural disasters can affect more than just your home and can have a resonating impact on someone’s life as well,” says Darras. “Strong insurance policies can provide for you in unforeseen circumstances. Make sure all your paperwork and policies are in order, when it comes to you and your family because life has a way of throwing the unforeseeable in our path.”

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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