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Learn about common housing issues that happen after a disaster.

Homeowner Resources

Current Protections

Federally Backed Loans

Loan foreclosures may not happen to federally backed loans until February 28, 2021

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

Loan foreclosures may not happen to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan until January 31, 2021


United Policy Holder’s Roadmap to Recovery™ provides free insurance resources, tips, tools and guidance relating to disaster recovery.

As of June 2023 Allstate and State Farm are not currently providing new homeowner insurance polices in California.

The California FAIR Plan provides insurance coverage to properties that are unable to get coverage in the current marketplace.

Relief Programs

California Mortgage Relief Program

The California Mortgage Relief Program provides homeowners that
have faced financial hardships because of COVID-19 with help to catch up with late property tax, mortgage, or reverse mortgage payments.

California Mortgage Relief Program has expanded, allowing
more homeowners to eligible for assistance:

· Homeowners who missed at least two mortgage
payments OR at least one property tax payment prior to March 1, 2023;

· Californians who own and occupy properties up to 4 units (must be primary residence and own only 1 property);

· Homeowners who took partial claims or loan deferrals during or after January 2020; and

· Californians who previously received funding through the program may be eligible for additional assistance up to a total of $80,000

Homeowner FAQs

If my home was damaged or destroyed by a disaster, can I obtain financial assistance to help pay for temporary housing?

Yes. If your home was damaged or destroyed during a disaster, you may be able to obtain financial assistance for temporary housing. FEMA and/or your homeowners’ insurance policy may cover such costs.

Can I obtain additional financial assistanceif my home was damaged or destroyed by a disaster and my insurance is not sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding?

Yes. If your insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding you home, FEMA and SBA Loans may be able to help cover the cost to rebuild or repair your home.

If I was required to evacuate during a disaster, can I receive reimbursement for my alternative lodging expenses?

Yes. If you were required to evacuate during the disaster, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover the cost of temporary housing. If your insurance is not sufficient, FEMA may be able to reimburse you for your hotel or alternative lodging expenses. Keep your receipts.

Do I need to obtain a permit to begin rebuilding my home?

Yes. Generally, a homeowner must obtain a building permit before conducting a construction project to repair or rebuild their home.

Do I have to continue to pay my mortgage if a natural disaster destroyed my home?

Yes. If your home was destroyed during a natural disaster, you must continue to make your mortgage payments. In certain situations, you may be able to negotiate with your financial institution to obtain a forbearance agreement(postponing your payments).In addition, some financial institutions have disaster related mortgage repayment programs that can provide a temporary respite from monthly mortgage payments.You should contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) to discuss possible mortgage relief options.

If my home was damaged or destroyed by a disaster, do I need to remove the debris on my property?

Yes. Homeowners are responsible for having all debris safely and properly removed from their properties. Often local government authorities offer a debris removal program. If you intend to undertake debris removal yourself, please know that you must comply with all state and local requirements to ensure the protection of public health and safety. Discuss all requirements with your local county contact prior to undertaking any removal: http://wildfirerecovery.org/debris-removal/debris-removal-contacts/

If my personal belongings were damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster can I obtain financial assistance to replace them?

Yes. If your personal belongings were damaged or destroyed by a disaster, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover the cost to replace your belongings. If your insurance is not sufficient to cover the cost of such items, FEMA or SBA Loans may be able to cover the cost of replacement items. Keep your receipts. You may also be able to obtain community specific grants created to assist fire survivors. Check your local resources.

Do I have to keep paying my property tax if my home was destroyed by a natural disaster?

Yes. You do have to continue to pay your property taxes if your home was destroyed; however, the County Assessor’s Office will reassess the current value of your home and adjust your tax bill accordingly. The County Assessor’s Office will mail you an adjusted bill some time before the end of the year, so, please make sure that you have provided them with your current mailing address

Insurance FAQs

What does a homeowners’ insurance policy generally cover?

A homeowners’ insurance policy generally covers the cost of damage to the insured’s personal property (e.g., furniture, clothes and appliances) and real property(i.e., the insured’s house and other buildings on the premises), as well as the cost of additional living expenses incurred by the insured as a direct result of the loss, such as the cost of food and temporary lodging.

What can I expect after I file my insurance claim?

The insurance company or their designated adjuster (a person professionally trained to assess damage to your property) will ask to examine evidence you have to validate claims of loss. Examples of evidence may include pictures (taken before or after the property loss), an inventory of damaged property, records and receipts for living expenses incurred due to the property loss, and repair estimates from third parties.In general, insurance companies should acknowledge receipt of your claim within 15 days of receipt, communicate their final decision regarding your claim within 40 days of receipt, and begin to release insurance funds related to a valid insurance claim within 30 days of your acceptance of the insurance company’s offer. It is important to note that the insurance process can take a significant amount of time. Please contact our office if you need help negotiating with your insurance company.

What does a renters’ insurance policy generally cover?

A renters’ insurance policy generally covers damage to the insured’s personal property, as well as the cost of the loss of use of the insured’s rental unit. Depending on the specific scope of coverage, renters’ insurance policies may also cover liability and certain medical expenses associated with the covered loss.

Will my insurance cover the cost of temporary housing?

Generally, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies cover the cost of temporary housing after a disaster, as well as, the increased cost of related living expenses, such as, food and temporary pet care, up to certain limits. Such coverage is generally referred to as Additional Living Expense coverage or Loss ofUse coverage.It is important to check your policy to understand your exact coverage.You should also contact your insurance company to request a list of common items covered as part of such coverage so you understand exactly what you are entitled to be reimbursed for.

What does comprehensive vehicle insurance generally cover?

Comprehensive vehicle insurance generally covers physical damage to the insured’s vehicle that was not caused by a collision, such as damage caused by a disaster. Comprehensive vehicle insurance is not required by law in California, so not everyone has such coverage.

Will my insurance policy cover the cost of debris removal?

Your homeowners’ insurance policies may cover a portion of the cost of debris removal; however, it is important to check your policy to understand your exact coverage.

What do I do if my insurance policy was lost or destroyed?

If your insurance paperwork has been lost or destroyed, contact your insurance carrier to request replacement documents. Your insurance provider is legally obligated to provide you with copies of your policy upon request.

What can I do if my insurance claim has been denied?

If your insurance claim has been denied, contact your insurance company to obtain information about the appeals process and request a written copy of their reasoning for denying your claim. Once you obtain this information, you may choose to appeal the insurance company’s decision yourself or contact an attorney or public insurance adjuster who can help you with the process.If you believe your claim was unfairly denied, you may also file a Request for Assistance with the California Department of Insurance.

What do I do if I don’t know who my insurance carrier is?

If your insurance paperwork was lost or destroyed and you do not know who your insurance provider is, contact your bank or financial institution for help in identifying your insurance carrier.

As a consumer who can I contacted to obtain information about the insurance process?

The California Department of Insurance will provide consumer information upon request. The California Department of Insurance can be contacted either by phone at 1-800-927-4357 or online at www.insurance.ca.gov.

How do I file an insurance claim?

To file an insurance claim you must contact your insurance carrier. You should start the claims process as soon as possible. Many insurance policies have deadlines for filing claims.It is important to review your insurance contract to know what timelines you must adhere to. Please note that certain contractual timelines are extended if your loss occurs as a result of a declared State of Emergency. Such extensions can include the timeline under which you are entitled access to your insurance benefits, so, please contact our office if you have any questions about such extensions and how they impact your particular insurance policy.

FAQs present by Legal Aid of Sonoma County

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The service, which allows callers to receive limited legal assistance from a volunteer lawyer, is a partnership with the Disaster Legal Assistance Collaborative (DLAC). Assistance includes insurance claims, property loss, landlord-tenant, repair and construction, employment, consumer matters, securing FEMA assistance, etc.

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