While only a small percentage of Socal's housing stock is being threatened by the fires, this might be a good time to review your policy and make sure you're not underinsured, which tends to happen a lot. This is especially true when it comes to coverage for the contents of your home. The Insurance Information Network of California offers these tips:
--Base your insurance on the cost to replace your home and not the current market value. Consult your real estate agent, appraiser or an architect for average building costs in your area to estimate the cost of your home.
--Have enough coverage for the contents of your home. Normally, the contents of your home are covered for up to 50 percent of your overall homeowner's coverage. Check if you have actual cash value or replacement cost coverage on your contents. Replacement cost coverage is your best bet because your insurer will replace damaged contents with new ones rather than paying you for the current value of your possessions.
--Take an inventory of all your possessions and keep it off the premises. The hardest part of filing a claim after a fire is remembering what was lost and how much it was worth.
--If your home is insured by a state-offered FAIR Plan, you should talk to you agent about purchasing a "wrap-around policy" from another insurer to cover any gaps in coverage.
*The LAT's Kathy Kristof has a Q&A about the basics of fire insurance.