Three years since the Tubbs fire, there have been some notable improvements for homeowners who are wrangling with their insurance carriers in the aftermath of a wildfire loss.

The state Legislature enacted some reforms, such as boosting rental living expenses from a maximum of two years to three years after a disaster while a homeowner waits for their home to be rebuilt. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that required carriers to provide initial payments of at least 25% of their personal property that was destroyed without having the homeowner detail their entire inventory.

Yet there is still no solution for the most vexing problem of all: How to ensure that homeowners have sufficient coverage to rebuild their house and that they actually receive that amount?

In California, the onus is on the homeowner to ensure they have the right coverage amount to rebuild — a figure that only a local contractor would likely know. And most residents don’t reach out to a builder when pricing or updating their coverage.

That was proven after the 2017 wildfires when a survey by the consumer group United Policyholders found about two-thirds of those fire victims were underinsured — with some in pricey Fountaingrove facing a shortfall of more than $1 million. That number likely hasn’t changed much, said Amy Bach, executive director of the San Francisco-based consumer group. It is a cold reality that will soon be discovered by hundreds of homeowners in the wake of the Glass fire, which destroyed or damaged about 800 single-family homes.

“At this point, I’m convinced that insurers don’t want to solve the problem,” Bach said.

As the problem lingers, a Santa Rosa firm is attempting to help homeowners protect themselves. BW Builder Inc. assists homeowners in the aftermath of a fire by preparing detailed

PANAMA CITY (AP) — A commission in Panama charged with identifying the remains of some victims of the 1989 U.S. invasion of the country said Friday it is in danger of running out of funding.

The effort that began with exhumations in January has lifted the hopes of Panamanians who had relatives die or disappear and have lived with unanswered questions about their fate for 30 years.

José Luis Sosa, the executive secretary of the December 20 commission, said the group is X-raying and extracting DNA samples from about 33 remains. But Sosa said the work could be interrupted when funds run out in November. About 514 Panamanian soldiers and civilians were killed in the invasion, as well as 23 U.S. troops. Human rights groups believe the number of Panamanian dead could be higher.

“There is no sense in having the commission open if it is not able to perform its functions, and that is the situation we face,” said Sosa. Plans for further exhumations could also be put on hold.

Authorities gave the approval for exhumation of the bodies after a truth commission in 2016 documented about 20 disappearances due to the U.S. military action to topple strongman Manuel Noriega.

The daughter of a lieutenant in Noriega’s military said the family still has no answers about a coffin that they contend was mistakenly identified as containing his remains.

“I am in tears, because I can’t believe this is happening,” said Brenda Bethancourt, 60, daughter of Braulio Bethancort. “Every time we get near the end, something comes up..”

DNA testing is expected to take months.

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LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The red flag fire warnings have sparked fierce fires in Northern California, forcing local authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for residents. Mercury Insurance is ready to assist homeowners and renters insurance policyholders who have had to leave their homes in response to the Glass Fire, another mandatory fire-related evacuation order, or whose property has suffered fire damage.

Mercury representatives are available to help address covered claims while following social distancing procedures. Representatives are also available to arrange temporary housing and provide assistance with living expenses if policyholders are forced to leave their homes in response to mandatory evacuation orders. Residents evacuating their homes should make sure they have the necessary supplies to keep themselves and their family safe during the evacuation.

“Follow mandatory evacuation orders to get yourself and family to safety, immediately,” said Christopher O’Rourke, Mercury’s vice president of property claims. “It’s important to follow these orders and you can trust that Mercury has you covered. Policyholders who were forced to leave their homes due to mandatory evacuation orders should contact their agents or call the Mercury Claims Hotline at (800) 503-3724 for help. They should keep their receipts for any additional living expenses as a Mercury homeowners or renters insurance policy can help them recoup this money.

“Mercury also recommends that policyholders report losses as soon as possible, so we can begin to assist with the rebuilding process.”

Wildfire home hardening, firescaping and preparedness tips on how to mitigate damage, as well as frequently asked questions are readily available in Mercury’s Resource Center.

If a claim needs to be filed, O’Rourke advises policyholders follow a few simple procedures to help speed up the process.

When filing a claim

  • Contact Mercury immediately to report your loss.
  • Be