IMPORTANT UPDATE: Debris Insurance Collection Process
The County’s Debris Insurance Collection Program has suspended in-person appointments in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to protect employees and the community.
Office of Recovery and Resiliency staff are working remotely as part of the County of Sonoma's steps to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Staff are checking email and available to talk on the phone during normal business hours.
Property owners who wish to talk with Recovery Office staff about the debris removal insurance collection process can make an appointment for a phone interview. In-person meetings are not being scheduled at this time.
Phone appointments: To schedule a telephone call with staff, please email recoveryinfo@Sonoma-County.org or call 707-565-1222.
The County of Sonoma last year received Cost Reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) for each property that participated in the Government-Sponsored Debris Removal Program after the October 2017 wildfires that destroyed 5,300 homes in the County.
The County is required by CalOES/FEMA to handle the collection of any available private property insurance proceeds identified as coverage for debris removal. By participating in the Program, property owners assigned their debris removal insurance proceeds to the County. The County will collect and turn over debris removal coverage proceeds to CalOES/FEMA. Property owners may reduce the amount owed by submitting documentation for a range of additional debris related expenses and other circumstances related to rebuilding or buying a replacement home.
Based on the Cost Reports, the County prepared invoices and sent them to the insurance companies with policy holders who lost homes, and requested information about related coverage amounts and any available debris removal proceeds. The County has sent each property owner an email with a personal link to an online folder that contains documents related to the debris removal process, including the invoice and their Right of Entry form.
More information about the Debris Insurance Collection Process, including FAQs, forms to submit and how to contact Office of Recovery and Resiliency staff, is available in the directory at left.
Set Aside Insurance Claim Funds Designated for Debris Removal
- If you have homeowner’s insurance, and receive a check for your dwelling claim coverages – depending on your policy – this may include an amount designated for debris removal.
- In coordination with state and federal agencies, the County of Sonoma will work with you to collect the amount specified for debris removal in your insurance.
- In the meantime, do not spend any funds from your insurance claim payment that are specified for debris removal for other rebuilding activities.
- It is important to consult with your insurance provider to be certain of your policy and coverages for debris removal.
Save Your Receipts for Any Private Debris Removal Work
- Some residential properties may require private debris removal for burnt trees, outbuildings under 120 square feet, or other areas not included in the Government-Sponsored Debris Removal Program.
- Insurance claim funds specified for debris removal may be able to be used to cover those costs.
- It is important that you save your receipts for any private debris removal costs.
- The County of Sonoma will only collect reimbursement for the Government-Sponsored Debris Removal Program if there are any debris removal funds left unspent in your insurance coverage after you have completed the private removal.
- You will need to provide your receipts to the County for verification of the private removal work.
California Department of Insurance Resources
Homeowners’ (HO) insurance policies cover costs for debris removal in a few different ways. You should consult your specific insurance policy to determine how debris removal benefits are paid. An Insurance Fact Sheet from the California Department of Insurance explains different coverages and the two typical kinds of Homeowners’ Insurance. The department’s Top Tips for Wildfire Claimants also offers advice to those who lost their homes in the fires.