With the two year anniversary coming up for Station Fire survivors, we would like to remind them of the two year deadline to replace property that was extended to them due to California laws regarding State Declared Disasters.

According to California Insurance Code § 2051.5, when the insurance company must only pay the policyholder the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your property when the claim is made, the policyholder has two years (instead of one) to claim the actual cost to replace the item (often referred to as Replacement Cost Value or RCV) once the item has been replaced.

For example, say you had a couch that you estimated would cost $2,000 to replace, but the insurance company only gave you $1,250 as the ACV. Once you actually replaced the couch, you found the actual RCV was $2,145.35 and you have a receipt for the item at that cost. If you have a replacement cost policy, the $895.35 difference can be recovered from the insurance company if your claim was not closed by legal negotiations and you have not yet reached the limits for the coverage in question (which in the example is the personal property coverage). Send copies of your receipts to the insurance company documenting the difference and request a check for the held back depreciation.

You should be aware that the deadline isn’t two years from the date of the loss, but the law specifically states two years “from the date that the first payment toward the actual cash value is made.” Now would be the time to get out copies of the first checks they paid for each coverage so you can properly calculate your deadline.

If there are items that will still need to claim after the two year deadline, you can write a letter requesting an extension. The law states, “Nothing in this section shall prohibit the insurer from allowing the insured additional time to collect the full replacement cost.”

Sample Letter

Thank you for assisting us in returning to normal following our loss.

We are making claim for full replacement cost value under the [personal property, dwelling and other structures, if available] coverage of our policy within two years of our loss. Our loss occurred [DATE] and your first check was dated [DATE].

We intend to completely repair, rebuild or replace our lost personal property and dwelling. Please extend these policy requirements an additional year. Please let us know, in writing, within 15 calendar days.


Inspirational Quotes

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.

Winston Churchill


We lost our home in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire in Poway CA. As was the case with most (if not all) of my neighbors, we were drastically under insured through no fault of our own. I don’t believe that anyone is prepared for such a catastrophic emotional and financial loss. The task of completely rebuilding your life is monumental. Fortunately, the city of Poway co-operated with CARe and allowed them to hold bi-weekly insurance meetings in the City Chambers. After attending 2 of the group meetings we then scheduled several one-on-one meetings with CARe and were able to start to piece together the puzzle that is a catastrophic insurance claim. The resources which CARe was able to put us in touch with were incredible, and after they showed us the basics of handling an insurance claim we felt that we had knowledge to work through the once daunting task of negotiating with our insurance company. We could not have made it through the process without the information, help and encouragement that we received from CARe

Witch Creek Fire Survivor, 2007