A number of myths are causing victims to delay bringing a Dixie Fire claim against PG&E or, even worse, to think they don’t have a claim.
Not true. Pacific Gas and Electric Company and its parent corporation, PG&E, filed for bankruptcy in 2019 following the massive 2018 Camp Fire trigger caused by PG&E’s equipment. The company left bankruptcy in 2020 after setting aside money to pay the victims of fires it caused.
At this time (and at the time of the Dixie Fire), PG&E is not bankrupt. The company has insurance and assets to pay the victims. Additionally, PG&E belongs to a California state program that ensures it can pay compensation to victims if the damages are extensive. PG&E currently estimates the damages from the Dixie Fire will exceed $1.15 billion. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California has already subpoenaed records from PG&E as part of its investigation into possible prosecution of PG&E for causing the Dixie Fire.
Not true. Not only do insurance policies have limits on the damages they will pay, but they also do not pay anything for certain types of damages.
Every homeowner’s policy and renter’s policy will have limits on what it will pay for certain types of damages. Often these limits do not provide enough money to rebuild homes destroyed. Further, in almost every case, these limits cover only a small fraction of the costs of cleaning up the damage to trees destroyed by the fire. This is particularly true for victims of the Dixie Fire as many victims owned large acreage and/or had many trees on their property. Most policies will have a limit of about $15k to $50k on what it will pay for cleaning up tree damage. If the property was more than two acres or had a lot of trees, then the costs for cleaning up the dead trees can easily exceed $100k.
Importantly, homeowner’s insurance policies and renter’s policies pay nothing for the emotional impact of losing your property to a fire. This means the insurance will pay nothing for fleeing your home, essentially nothing for the loss of pets, and nothing for the months and years of cleaning up and rebuilding ahead.
Not true. There’s no upside to waiting to bring your claims against PG&E. Even if they are later found to not be responsible for the fire (contrary to the evidence that currently exists) there will be no cost to you. The Danko Meredith law firm advances the costs of filing claims against PG&E.
Further, it is beneficial for fire victims to get the needed experts working on your claim early. If you had more than two acres, it can be important to get forestry experts out to inspect your property early. Some of the tree damage gets cleaned up – for example, PG&E and counties authorities typically get aggressive about cutting dead trees along roadways following a wildfire. It is good to have an expert take a look at your property before too much of the damage is cleaned up.