A FAIR Plan policy is basic coverage only. It seldom is as good as private insurance. That said, there is good news. FAIR Plan policies pay for the cash value of the dwelling that burned. Say your home’s value before the Dixie Fire was $300,000. The FAIR Plan will pay you the value of the structure, say $250,000. It will also pay you the cash value of your dwelling’s contents. Your irreplaceable photos of your grandparents? A FAIR Policy won’t pay anything for those. But then again, neither would private insurance. To be compensated for those photos, you need to make a claim against PG&E.
The big difference between FAIR Plans and private insurance is that FAIR Plan policies do not pay anything toward rebuilding costs, while private insurance will. For example, it may well cost $450,000 to rebuild your $250,000 structure. A private policy might pay up to $325,000 for rebuilding. A FAIR Plan will pay you nothing.
In either case, to recover the full costs of rebuilding, you need to make a claim against PG&E.
What about temporary living costs? Most FAIR Plan policies cover the costs of temporary housing, but only up to a dollar limit of 10% of your dwelling coverage, irrespective of how long it takes to rebuild or replace your home. So the FAIR Plan coverage may not see you through. Private insurance policies pay “Additional Living Expenses” that include not only rent, but also associated costs of being put out of your house, such as the costs of having to drive further to work, the costs of having to buy meals, furniture rental, and so on. Still, the Additional Living Expense coverage is limited as well. Many survivors find themselves in a bind 12 to 16 months after a fire when they haven’t yet even started to rebuild but are seeing their ALE coverage come to an end.
FAIR policies pay nothing for trees. The best private insurance is not much better, as it might pay $1500 per tree that was destroyed. PG&E, however, is responsible for the full costs of tree replacement (provided the claimed cost is not unreasonable in light of the property’s underlying value.)
Neither FAIR Policies nor private insurance compensates you for the emotional stress and trauma caused by the fire and dealing with its aftermath. Again, for that you have to make a Dixie Fire claim against PG&E.
To make a claim against your FAIR Plan, it’s not enough to call your insurance broker. You have to make a claim on the FAIR Plan website. You’ll need your policy number. Here’s the link: Make a FAIR Plan claim.