The following information has been compiled for IAFF members and their families who’ve been affected by the October 2017 fires in Northern California. Please check back regularly as this document will be updated when new information becomes available.
IAFF Local Operations Center
Local 1401 and Local 1775, with assistance from IAFF International Headquarters in Washington DC, Locals 2881, 55, 689, and others are operating an operations center at Local 1401’s Union Hall, 555 South E Street in Santa Rosa. Affected members can go directly to the Operations Center for assistance.
Last updated: October 18, 2017 at 5:31PM
Table of Contents
Navigating the Insurance Claim Process
The following information has been compiled by John Grey, Local 1775 Attorney and Tim Doherty, former Local 1401 President and practicing attorney who is reaching out to help IAFF members while also having lost his own home in the Tubbs fire.
John and Tim have offered to donate legal time to assist members of Local 1775 and Local 1401 to initiate and navigate through the insurance claims process. This is only for those members who have suffered losses either in whole or part as a result of the recent fires in Northern California.
Both John and Tim want to make it very clear that neither is an insurance loss specialist and neither one of us engages in insurance contract litigation. That said, they both have experience in dealing with insurance loss and what follows are their recommendations on how to get started. If any IAFF member encounters a major problem with their carrier or adjuster they can provide them with the names of specialized attorneys who handle insurance litigation and/or private adjusting firms who do the same. That being said what follows are their joint comments and recommendations:
- Whatever else our members do, they should not sign any full release forms without having those forms reviewed by independent adjuster and/or an attorney of their choice.
- Partial payments can be accepted so as to allow for living expenses and the re-purchase of necessary items. The partial payments/advances would be a reduction against the ultimate recovery.
- The members should be sure they are dealing with an authorized representative of their insurance carrier. There will be people out attempting to scam our members as well as the general public.
- At any time if the members have questions they can feel free to contact Tim or I and you can provide the contact information as you deem appropriate.
Additional suggestions are:
- Don’t act impulsively; take a deep breath and obtain information.
- When meeting with a representative of your insurance carrier or the lead adjuster have another person present who can confirm what is said.
- If agreements are reached those should be memorialized in writing to protect both sides.
- You need to have a copy of your policy in order to understand what our rights are. If you cannot obtain the policy itself at the very least obtain a copy of the “Declaration pages”. These pages should have the limits of liability set forth on them.
- When you meet with the adjuster question the adjuster as to determine whether or not there are any hard caps on your recovery, i.e. is there a limit of $XX with regard to replacement of the structure.
- Be sure to confirm what level of coverage is for your contents. If it is full replacement value you need to make a list of those things that were lost in your home. With regard to contents, make a detailed list and if possible provide the cost of the various items lost.
- Determine whether or not you have “loss of use”. By that it is meant if you cannot use your home you are entitled to compensation to allow you to obtain lodging. The extent of that coverage depends upon your policy.
- Determine what appeal process exists, if any, in the event that a claim is denied.
- When you meet with the adjuster obtain a timeline as to when you can expect advanced payments, replacement items and ultimately the final payout.
While these comments are brief in nature it should get you started in the process. Remember - you need a copy of your policy, you need to know what your limits for recovery are, and you need to determine if it appears that the adjuster is working with you or attempting to lowball you on your replacement rights.
Please contact your Local President if you would like to speak directly to John or Tim.
Please visit http://calfiretaxinfo.org. This information is endorsed by IAFF Local 1775.
The North Bay Enrolled Agents has put together this site as a resource for the victims of the North Bay fires. The site will be regularly updated as we receive updates from the federal, state and local tax agencies.
Tax Return Due Date Still Monday October 16th
October 12, 2017 4:00 p.m. – At this time, the IRS has not yet postponed the due date for the filing of 2016 tax returns that were on extension — these returns are still due on Monday October 16th. We are in contact with our Stakeholder Liaison at the IRS and will update you as soon as we know more. Our liaison recommends that, until we get the official word, individuals should file when they are reasonably able to do so and if they receive a notice for late filing they can request an abatement of penalty based on reasonable cause for penalty relief due to the circumstances. You can also attach a statement when you file your tax return indicating that the reason for late filing is the California North Bay Fire.
General Disaster Tax Relief Information
- Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Losses and your federal income tax (Including Federally Declared Disaster Areas)
Franchise Tax Board
Sonoma County Property Tax
FEMA Relief Info
FEMA now has the Sonoma County fires emergency listed on their site:
Enter your full address to see if your area has been declared for Individual Assistance.
- IF YOUR ADDRESS IS INCLUDED you will see WILDFIRES listed under Disaster Name. Below that you will see “Apply on Line”. Click that link to get to the application and instructions.
- Click on the name of the disaster “WILDFIRES” to view additional information.
- IF YOUR ADDRESS IS NOT INCLUDED, you will see a message with specific follow up information.
FEMA Helpline: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, 7 days a week, 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585
- Applicants residence must be in a PDMDA (Presidentially Declared Major Disaster Area) – Sonoma County is in the PDMDA and destroyed or damaged to such an extent that reconstruction or replacement is necessary.
- The new purchased home or a reconstructed home must be a single family residence or FHA Approved Condo
- Must be Borrower’s Principal Residence
- The New residence does not need to be located in a PDMDA, where previous home was located
- Borrower must have a minimum credit score of 500
- Borrower can choose Zero Down Payment or make a down payment.
- Maximum Loan To Value is 100% (Zero Down Payment)
- Any credit issues after Disaster may be ignored if a borrower had satisfactory credit prior to disaster
- Mortgage payments is excluded for Prior home (destroyed) If:
- Mortgagee is working with insurance to properly address current mortgage obligation
- Apply property insurance proceeds to mortgage of damage home
- Payment History after Disaster on Mortgage (if late) and were a result of the Disaster will be excluded.
- Buyers can purchase and make improvements and after closing
- 1-4 Unit structure – Existing (may have damage, but not fully destroyed) – Has roof and walls, stands permanently in one place and contains single or multiple housing are units that are used for human habitation
- Purchase a home or refinance an existing owned home
- Buyers can purchase and make improvements and after closing.
- Combines cost of home and renovation into one mortgage
- After Improved’ Value is used when securing this loan
All Public Safety Personnel will receive Giving To Heroes Credit
- .25 Of loan balance in credit to Buyer
- 10% of Gross Commission to Buyer from participating Agents
$2,500 = total credit towards closing costs.
There is aid available for active-retired firefighters through the IAFF Disaster Relief Fund and all retirees, regardless of status, through the California Fire Foundation's SAVE program. Other aid may be available.
All other programs listed in this document are available to retirees.
A fundraising campaign has been established for IAFF members. This is the only official fundraiser, and 100% of funds collected will go directly to the Firefighters who lost their homes.
Donations can be sent by text as well, by texting “ffstrong” to 41444