SDG&E Settles 2007 California Wildfire Claims For $686M; Other Settlements Likely

California's San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), along with parent company Sempra Energy, have agreed to settle wildfire claims with insurance companies for approximately $686 million. The utility companies say that other settlements relating to the 2007 fires that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of land, thousands of homes and killed and injured several people are likely in the near future.

Insurance company settlements

Although the companies are not admitting fault, they have agreed to settle insurance claims for $686 million. Company power lines were blamed for starting or contributing to the 2007 California wildfires. The companies say that the settlement involves about 75 percent of the claims they've received and that they hope to resolve the remaining 25 percent in the very near future.

Homeowners continue to rebuild

Even though the fires occurred two years ago and have likely dropped off of most people's radar, many homeowners continue to rebuild and put their lives back together. That's not an easy task when you've lost everything.

For many homeowners, the fires may have been their first experience dealing with insurance companies. While some insurance companies did well by their policyholders and paid claims promptly, many did not and homeowners likely had to file lawsuits against them for bad faith insurance practices.

Know what your policy covers

Although you can't control an insurer's claims practices, you can empower yourself in the process by knowing what your policy covers. In most cases, it's fairly straight forward. Homeowners' fire insurance policies generally cover:

  1. your dwelling (the house itself);
  2. other structures on the property such as garages, sheds or pool houses;
  3. personal property such as bicycles, cash, collectibles, computers, jewelry, silverware, stocks and securities. However, it's important to realize that you're likely to receive a standard amount for each item unless that item is specifically valued and listed in your policy;
  4. loss of use / additional living expense, which provides coverage for additional expenses incurred over and above your normal cost of living – such as the cost of staying in temporary housing, buying clothing and food and boarding pets when your home is being repaired or rebuilt.