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Last Post 10/25/2016 10:15 PM by  HuskerCat
Fire in CA
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stephie76
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10/21/2007 12:01 PM

    Anyone know what the likelihood of any of us getting work from the wildfire in CA? How big will it have to get?

    Just curious.

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    01Snake
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    10/21/2007 4:26 PM

    Don't hold your breath waiting on a call for a fire like this.

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    BobH
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    10/21/2007 5:21 PM

    I have been working claims in California for 16 years, and handled a number of fires that hammer multiple structures - and it's just not usually a Cat type situation because there aren't that many structures that are insured by one single carrier to bring out a cat team.

    Most of these houses get looked at by the staff adjuster for Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, USAA, etc. and there just aren't that many for a single carrier to need outside help.

    Edit 4 days later: 1,500 homes destroyed so far - this is more than "hundreds"  
    (see pg 6 of this thread for my tips on scoping fire claims)

    Bob H
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    Tom Toll
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    10/22/2007 2:24 PM

    This is a grim situation, but will not require, in my opinion, cat adjusters. Homes and businesses are being burned to the ground. That does not require an adjuster, just a huge check book. I am sure the companies will handle BI within their offices. Don't get your hopes up to go to California. I was raised very near where the fires in Malibu are right now.

    I know the area well and if the fires are not controlled very soon, we will see structure fire storms and thousands of homes could be burned to the ground. I have a lot of empathy for those folks right now. The are truly in danger, not only of the fires, but the smoke inhalation problem. Hopefully the Santa Anna winds will cease soon, as that is the problem. 70 to 100 mph winds are spreading the hot coals (embers) to other areas. This is a very dangerous situation.

    San Diego is also having their problems. Hundreds of homes on fire and not enough fire department personel to go to them. Lets all pray that the winds will cease and that the fire heroes can gain control of this very dangerous situation.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    stephie76
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    10/22/2007 2:45 PM

    Tom,

    Hopefully the winds will die down. I'm sure it is devastating to all involved. I was just curious about the cat part of it. I hadn't heard anyone really mention working large fires.

    Anyone think this is arson? I'm beginning to think so.

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    Tom Toll
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    10/22/2007 4:27 PM

    This is not arson. This is hurricane force winds blowing down electric lines that shorted and caught brush on fire. California has been very dry for several years, this allowing this type of calamity. It is getting worse and worse, as the winds are blowing very hard today. I fear this is going to be one of the worst California fires in history, hope not, but fear it is.

    Many years ago I flew fire patrol in my Cessna Skylane in central to northern Arkansas. I had a spotter in the right seat and anytime we spotted smoke, we firewalled the Skylane to get to the sight to determine intensity and size of the fire. Of course this would not have been possible in CA due to the Santa Ana winds. I was watching CNN this afternoon and saw a video taken from a chopper of a twin engine fire bomber that was flying tree top level and dropped his load on the fire, which completed extenguished it. These guys have nerves of steel to do that kind of flying, as it is very, very dangerous to do. Heat updrafts and mountain downdrafts can take a plane down in a second, if you don't know what your doing.

    Many old Convairs, DC-6 and DC-7's were converted for air bombers and are still in use. The future looks good for the Russion designed Beriev Be-200, twin jet water bomber to be introduced here in the states. It can scoop water from the ocean or lakes up to 12 tons of water in 14 seconds, become airborne and fly to the fire sight and drop 12 tons of water on the fires. I am in hopes that it gets certification and can be put to use here in the states next year.

     

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    brighton
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    10/22/2007 5:23 PM

    Tom,

    Remember the Oakland fires a few years back? I can't remember if it was human intervention or not but the sad thing was for years Oakland County had wanted to cut the brush to decrease the fire load capacity. The PC's there fought the county for years as they said it would ruin the asthetic views. Well guess who was screeming the loudest when the fires were attacking their houses?

    After the fires were extinguished and grass started to grow again the county bought a bunch of goats and put them under the control of the county fire department. Word got out to the PC's that these goats were civil servants just like police dogs and if anyone messed with them they could be facing felony charges. The goats grazed in peace and I cannot recall any major fires in that area since.

    Rocke Baker
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    Tom Toll
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    10/22/2007 5:44 PM

    Yes, I do Rocke. It seems aesthetics in CA is also causing water shortages. Those folks need to wake up to reality. Dry grass is a fire waiting to happen. That was a good idea to graze animals to control dry grass, too bad they didn't do it in the areas that are now on fire and in ruin. I know there are several southern states that are having to go on water rationing due to lack of rain. They also will be prone to this type fire if they don't watch what they are doing. I like green grass too, but not a priority to me if lack of water it creating a fire hazard.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    01Snake
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    10/22/2007 5:57 PM

    If you have fires going into places like this...a select few might see some work outta this!

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    cflclaims
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    10/22/2007 8:41 PM
    what about wind damage claims and smoke damage claims from this one? Seems to me even homes that are not fire damaged may sustain some pretty bad smoke damage.
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    Leland
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    10/22/2007 9:22 PM

    No, with all due respect Tom, there is always some arson when there this many fires. From the Orange County Register (www.OCregister.com) :

    The Santiago Fire was deliberately set in three areas next to the 241 toll road about 6 p.m. Sunday, and it grew quickly, fueled by dense vegetation and fierce Santa Ana winds, fire investigators said.

    The nutjobs always come out of the woodwork at times like this.  There are nine major fires right now according to the papers.

    I have about 3 claims, maybe more will come. Mine are wind, not fire.

    If anybody is coming out here to do claims I will try to help hook you up anyway I can except getting you the actual job. (I don't have that kind of pull).

     

     

     

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    sbeau4014
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    10/23/2007 7:35 AM
    The way these are going and the Santa Ana winds not dying down, there is a real potential that these will generate more claims then the fires of 2003, which by the way were burning 4 years ago to the day in these areas. Keep in mind, the news shows only destroyed homes, not damaged, smoke damaged, etc. I know of quite a few on their way out there now and I can easily see this being worse then the last go round.
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    claims_ray
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    10/23/2007 8:24 AM

    And I will bet you that those PCer's will be up in arms when they blame the Goats for attracting Coyotes, Bobcats, and Mountain Lions into the area and their pets start disappearing. Then when someone comes in to remove or reduce the population of those animals the PCer's will be up in arms again. The cycle will never die with those PCer's.

    Tom,

    Great picture, I love to see those planes in action although I know how dangerous the fires and the job they and others perform are.

     

     

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    paigetex
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    10/23/2007 9:23 AM
    There was alot of work out of the fires in '03 and this thing is even bigger and badder.
    Paige
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    BobH
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    10/23/2007 12:45 PM
    Yeah, the scope of this one is bigger than most fire events. Usually it is rare to have more than 100 homes involved. For any of you that may not have worked a fire loss - be prepared for a long time at one structure if it isn't burnt completely. I have spent a full day at a fire loss with laptop on a chair, with over 50 page estimate. The number of scope items is unreal - and you have to figure out which rooms need to be pulled down to the studs and seal the framing for odor control, and which ones don't.

    Pulling the outlet cover plates off and looking at the difference in color on the paint along the edge, and seeing if there is evidence of smoke residue in the wall helps. Smell is the big deal with fire claims. Every neighborhood has some story floating around about the person who's house was repaired after a fire, and "whenever they opened the closet door they could still smell the smoke".

    That means you have to "think" like smoke, all the little cavities it can go into. When a house gets fumigated for termites, they say after 24 hours the gas gets everywhere, into the stud walls, etc. Fire smoke is like that, and often under some degree of pressure and much more heat than fumigation.

    Sometimes it's hard to convince a green examiner why you need to peel drywall off rooms that don't look that bad, but for odor control you have to pull drywall off one side of the studs so you can spray sealer into the stud wall and on the back side of the drywall that you are leaving in place. Those are the judgments you make when you are standing at a fire site, often one part of the house is obviously damaged and the shades of gray get lighter and lighter as you leave the point of origin.

    Clothes in the closet are another clue to the degree of problem, you look at the white sleeves of clothes on the hangers, and the edges are darkened from smoke exposure - and to the degree there is a problem you have to figure out if you can just clean and seal-paint the walls, or do you have to pull it down for odor control. Especially if it is an insulated (exterior) wall that will really hold the smell. If it's just a light "dusting" of smoke particles you don't have to pull it down. If there is an obvious band of darkened paint for the upper 1/2 of the room then you do have to pull the drywall to the studs for odor control.
    Bob H
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    Tom Toll
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    10/23/2007 1:08 PM

    Leland, I certainly would not argue with you about that. The initial fire was reported as being caused by downed power lines as a result of the wind. I agree we have nut cases all over this country that have no respect for property or life. I have no doubt that many of the fires were intentionally set after the initial fire started. Hope they find out who did it and string em up.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    SSADJUSTER-25
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    10/23/2007 2:02 PM

    Leland or Bob,

    Do either one of you have the site or have a copy of the California State Farm H0-3 and Commercial Lines policy?

    Thanks

    Found on the Web FP-7955 CA (6-96) & Endorsements FE-5363. Is this the policy that will be worked with?

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    BobH
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    10/23/2007 2:36 PM
    Yeah, my house in CA is with State Farm and that is the form and endorsement on my house. If you work for the Farm you will get other policies that are different for rentals, etc. Do you have a vendor putting you on standby already? I have heard nothing of State Farm work for this fire, and would be surprised as they have built up a large in-house cat team that wasn't really utilized this year.
    Bob H
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    Tom Toll
    Moderator & Life Member
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    10/23/2007 3:05 PM

    I suspect Bob is correct. State Farm has a Natcat team that has been idle for a long time. Unless the fire destroys more homes and businesses, I doubt the Farm will be calling for help. Some other carriers may need help, but not the Farm, Farmers, or Allstate. Hopefully some of us can find some work there, as we sure the heck need it. This has been a very bad two years for many adjusters, including Janice and I.

    We have a tremendous amount of empathy and sadness for those in CA who are losing their homes and personal property. Let us pray that no more lives will be lost in this disaster and that the kooks don't start more fires.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    SSADJUSTER-25
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    10/23/2007 3:20 PM
    Tom,

    Totally agree with you...everyone needs work but we don't want folks to get hurt. All of those adjusters in the area please be careful and take care of your family.
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    Leland
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    10/23/2007 5:35 PM
    Tips for working claims in California

    1) Use this government website to look up sales tax rates for your estimates: http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates.cgi

    every city has a different rate. Note that many “cities” including famous ones, are not really cities- for example Venice is actually just part of Los Angeles.

    2) Get a “Thomas Guide” for navigation. This is indispensable, unless you have a GPS.

    We refer to freeways by number, not name. Learn the numbers.

    Learn which freeways are clogged and when. For example I would never plan to see anybody in Corona in the afternoon. Only the AM. It’s a difference of 2 hours driving time. I have been driving here for decades and I still don't know a lot of areas. Get a good map book.

    3) By law, no depreciation on labor.

    4) By case law, HO policies usually pay for matching to a high standard. Much higher standard of matching than other states. If you don't pay for matching when you should, someone else will be doing cleanup on your file 2 years later.

    5) Be aware of stronger framing for earthquakes- framing is more likely to include shear panel and more strapping. Tougher building codes in general.

    6) For nice people from nice states- be careful out here. Californians are much more likely to sue. Watch what you say and write. I have somebody telling me (often politely) that they will sue the insurance company about 2 or 3 times per month.

    7) Learn the California Fair Claims Practices- send the letters out on time telling the insured the status of their claim. (read #6)

    If anybody gets work out here let me know.
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    Nicka0782
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    10/23/2007 6:32 PM
    What vendors are located in California? i have a lot of family in that area and am very familiar with california.
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    stormcrow
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    10/23/2007 6:48 PM

    You worked hurricanes in 04 and 05, maybe you worked a hail storm or two since. A vendor calls and says come to work, should you go?

    I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
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    SSADJUSTER-25
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    10/23/2007 7:09 PM
    Several things come to mind on this:

    1. Do you trust the vendor that has called you?

    2. Do you feel you have enough experience to work the claims?

    3. This is the way to learn and if you not in pressure there should be someone to help you

    4. Why would you ask this question?

    Just a few thoughts that have popped into my head.

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    irvingsewell
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    10/23/2007 8:29 PM
    From prior experience and the fact that insurance companies have staffed up I am sure we will need a minimum of 15,000 claims for cat adjusters to be called out in force better find a normal job making normal income till then.
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