Notes from Paradise Community Information Meeting October 1, 2019

This meeting featured an update from the new Town of Paradise Disaster Recovery Director Laura Page, a presentation on the 2020 US Census from David Banuelos, a presentation by Charles Brooks and Holly Fisher of the Rebuild Paradise Foundation on Homeowner's Insurance, and an update from California Department of Insurance Deputy Commissioner Tony Cignarale. The meeting also provided an opportunity for attendees to speak with several local insurance agents and get a brochure with updated information on medical providers in Butte and Glenn counties.

The event was well attended, the lower seating at the CMA Church was filled and people sat along the sides and in the upper balcony as well to hear the information presented. The meeting was also live-streamed via the Town of Paradise.

The next Community Information Update will be held Tuesday, November 5th.

Town of Paradise Disaster Recovery Director Laura Page

Laura introduced herself to the community. She is excited to speak for first time and excited to work on Town projects from the Long Term Community Recovery Plan.


  • The Town issued a joint press release with Butte County last week – debris program phase 2 will be starting soon, FEMA approved to fund the removal of trees on private property that could affect public right-of-way.

  • The Town also asked to remove trees on private property that would affect private or orphaned roads and/or right-of-ways. FEMA asked questions and we are getting their answers, so we are still awaiting word on whether the program will expand to include these trees.

  • The Town also asked FEMA for approval of a program for removal of trees on private property that would affect structures on private property and FEMA said no, it is outside their scope to cover this. The Town is working on applying for grant funding to assist with this from other funding sources.

Resources Programs Identified on Website

  • USDA pilot program – includes a $10K and also a $40K low-interest loan – this program has specific eligibility requirements including income limits and that you must be 62 years or older. USDA is also working on developing other programs to help.

  • Deferred property tax relief – there are also eligibility requirements to qualify for this program

  • PG&E wildfire assistance program deadline 11/15/19 – payments will all be made by January 2020.

Reminders for Property Owners

  • PG&E wants us to know when pull permit need to separately apply PG&E for power.

  • Phase 1 of debris removal (qualifying burned structures and autos) is nearing completion – if you elected the alternate program with a private contractor, your work plan must be submitted to County ASAP. The County is working on outreach to owners that elected to go with the alternative private debris removal program and have not yet completed debris removal.

  • Thanks Butte-Glenn Medical Society – Care in our Community Directory to medical providers in those two counties. (I picked up a copy of this brochure, but it is 48 pages long - please let me know if you'd like a copy)

David Banuelos – US Census Bureau

Partnership Specialist for the region from San Joaquin to the Oregon Border,, cell (916) 398-0667

What is the Census and Why is it Important?

The Census is written in the Constitution; the first census was conducted in 1790 and a Census enumeration to count the population and record where people are living is to occur every ten years. The process has evolved over the many years, with many rules put in place to protect confidentiality and privacy. Title 13 imposes strict penalties for malicious sharing of census information. Personal DNA testing companies use previous census data to help people find possible relatives - but that information is only released after 73 years.

Many people are afraid to participate in the census due to concerns over confidentiality, but there are rules in place to protect the privacy of census information from incriminating you. Census information cannot but shared with any government law enforcement agency.

Census information is used to appropriately distribute funding (upwards of $675 billion!) for various programs across the nation based on population size. Funding programs include school and community service programs (he gave another example that census-based funding can help fix pot holes too). It also affects redistricting and representation in government.

How will the Census Work in 2020?

Most people will receive invitations allowing them to self-respond to the census in the way that is most convenient to them (more on what this means soon). Most households (95%) will receive their census invitation in the mail and if you respond, no one will ever come to your door. For those mailed invitations that are returned undelivered or for whom no self-response is received (~5%), census employees will drop off an invitation by hand and you can still make your census self-response in the way that is most convenient to you. Less than 1% of households will be counted in person by a census taker.

Census self-responses can be made via the internet (new in 2020!), or by phone, or by mail, or in-person (census kiosks and assistance centers, probably in library).

Timeline for 2020 Census

During the week of March 12, 2020 mailed invitations to self-respond to the census will go out. The following week you will likely get a reminder if you have not self-responded. By the end of March if you still haven't self-responded you will get a reminder post-card, and by end of the month or beginning of April your will receive another reminder post-card. Later in April census takers will start following up in person if self-responses are not received.

A bigger picture timeline is shown below. Census employees are working now to present this information about the Census to as many audiences as possible to educate people. They are also looking to hire local people to help with census activities. Their website has job opportunities posted. Full time and part time positions are available, they want to hire LOCAL people.

How will the Census work for the Camp Fire Burn Area?

The Census will count everyone where they are at on the day they are counted.

They recognize that where you live may be a tricky question for many people that have been displaced by the fire and careful consideration went into their decision, but people will be counted wherever they are living at the time of the census.

It is important to note that the Census occurs every 10 years, but other surveys collect info randomly across nation at other times in between, so as the population grows and the area recovers, that will be reflected.

Insurance Information Update from the Rebuild Paradise Foundation – Charles Brooks, Holly Fisher

The Rebuild Paradise Foundation was started right after fire to help rebuild the community.

Rebuild Paradise Foundation Insurance Project

Many people affected by the fire are concerned about insurance. Rebuild Paradise has begun a project to gather info on insurance – how many people were in attendance at this meeting tells them the community has many questions about insurance. The insurance project will have several phases.

  • Phase 1: focused on gathering information to educate the community and understand what options are available to property owners. The information presented at this meeting was focused on stick-built homes, information will be presented in the future related to commercial insurance and insurance for manufactured homes.

  • Phase 2: Once the current picture of insurance is better understood, the project will move into a phase in which the Rebuild Paradise Foundation will work to understand how we can impact the risk modeling that insurers use to make decisions about whom to insure and for what premium cost and then advocate for our community to try to attract insurers to write policies in our community to increase options (and keep prices lower).

  • Phase 3: The Rebuild Paradise Foundation intends to pay-it-forward to other communities similar to ours with all of its projects, including this one on insurance. The Foundation sees an opportunity to change our interaction with the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and recover insurability for our community and then help other communities to do the same.

Understanding Insurance

This presentation will speak in generalities. Insurance - whether a policy will be written and how much the premium(s) will cost depend entirely on the specific address for the policy. You should speak with a local insurance agent to explore the specific options for your property.

The process by which insurance underwriters decide to write a policy and on premiums is not simple… it is very address specific – not the neighborhood or street, but each specific address. Their considerations involve two main scores calculated at each specific address. Here is a simple explanation:

1. FireLine Score (FL) – calculated by a modeling system developed by the insurer or a 3rd party service based on these considerations (and more):

  • Fuel – brush, trees, grass

  • Slope – on canyon edge, bigger slope faster fire can spread

  • Access – is it easily accessed? Easy for equipment to access?

2. Protection Class (PC) – fire protection ranking system based on these considerations (and more):

  • Fire departments - # stations open, paid/volunteer, open all the time or only certain hours

  • Water supply system in community – how close are hydrants, do you have a well

  • Fire alarms, communications systems in community including telephone, internet

  • Class 1 excellent in all, Class 10 not great protection availability

  • Example Protection Classes in our area: Chico 3, Paradise 2-3 (very good!), Magalia 4, Forest Ranch, Stirling City, Cohasset 8-9

The two scores are factored into decisions about whether a policy will be written and how much the premium will be. Rebuild Paradise did this exercise for several example property addresses in the Paradise/Magalia area to illustrate the range of options in our area. Again, because the options are address specific, you should do your own research, listen to several agents, and shop around.

Options for Types of Insurers:

  1. Admitted Carriers (few listed, link to ca dept insurance) – must comply with CA regulations – covered if company goes bankrupt or something goes wrong

  2. Non-Admitted Carriers (Scottsdale, Lloyds of London) – may not follow CA regulations, no recourse if claim mishandled, if company fails, no guarantee of payment

  3. CA FAIR Plan – if have this, also need wrap-around or companion policy to get to traditional policy coverages – limited peril program – only covers mother nature caused things like wildfire. It IS an option for all CA property owners. Use experienced agent to write this type of policy as values are YOUR responsibility. Wrap-around policy for liability, theft, water leak, etc. Several local agents write wrap=around policies with CA FAIR plan – now have 2 policies with 2 sets of premiums and deductibles.

Examples of Options around the Ridge

They obtained quotes from a well-known company currently writing policies on the Ridge for an idea. For each policy quote, the exact same house was considered (1800 square feet, 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, new construction with stucco siding, WUI compliant, 2 car garage, and the exact same policy was written including code upgrades (+25%) and extended replacement cost (+50%). The blue markers indicate two addresses in Paradise where standard policies could be written today for $1385 to $1550 per year premiums. The red markers, for addresses in more outlying areas of the Ridge including Magalia and along canyon edges on both sides of town, fire insurance coverage came from CA FAIR Plan policies and thus the properties needed a wrap-around policy to provide coverage for liability and other aspects of a typical homeowner's policy. These policy premiums ranged from $3125 to $5650 per year to get the same coverage for the same home. The FireLine (FL) and Protection Class (PC) scores are listed with the markers and the availability of policy options and premium costs correlate with those scores.

Property owners are urged to ask for multiple opinions and ensure insurance coverages are adequate – don’t just go for lowest rate. Review your policies annually and update policies as needed. Have specific and accurate information about your property when you consult with agents for policy information. The Rebuild Paradise Foundation is hoping that individual efforts to mitigate fire risk will pay-off for property owners in the future as part of this picture used to determine policy options and premium pricing.

CA Department of Insurance - Tony Cignarale, Deputy Commissioner

(800) 927-4357 (HELP),

Debris Removal:

  • If you chose private: if you spend an amount on own, comes out of Coverage A first. If you had extra coverage for debris removal, once you reach Coverage A limits as you rebuild, the additional percentage will kick in.

  • If you chose the CalOES consolidated program – an agreement was made with insurance partners that the financial obligation is much less possibly – may only be additional percentage specific in policy rather than tapping any money from Coverage A. If don’t have additional coverage, CalOES will ONLY collect any money left under limit of Coverage A after you rebuild.

  • Contact the CA Dept of Insurance if your insurance is not saying something similar

Replacing your home in another location:

CA is one of few states with law in place to allow you to do that. The law clarifies that you get full coverages that would have come into play if you built in lost location, so you can get full and extended replacement costs that would have incurred had you built that home. You still need to understand what it would have cost to rebuild that home if you were doing that. Some companies will say they are not covering land purchase at new location, so they will take some amount off for value of land and you only receive less amount for new property structure(s) only. There is no law in place to prevent that from happening. Several insurance companies have agreed to not take that deduction on land. If you run into a company subtracting money for the land, contact the CA Dept of Insurance to see if they can work with company.

Negotiating with insurance company:

You need an accurate scope of your loss – for the structure(s), this means a description of what it would cost to rebuild home – including types of flooring, roof, etc. Ensure accuracy – otherwise could be missing lots of money.

Additional Living Expenses (ALE):

A new law passed in September 2018 – insurers are required to extend 36 month of ALE plus extensions for good cause. Some may still have monetary limits that also come into play even though time has lengthened – you may have more time, but may not have more money. What is good cause for extensions beyond 36 months? Circumstances beyond your control that result in delay in rebuild process. Keep good track of progress at stages – need to prove situations that delayed that were beyond your control. If there is a dispute, contact CA Dept of Insurance. They will work with company to ensure following law and reasonably working with you.

Partial losses and ALE:

The law is not so good in that area – have certain amount of time to fix damage in your home to remove smoke damage and clean. The dwelling may not be habitable for some other reason such as not having water or other things that prevent you from moving back in. Unfortunately, the law is not good, but they are working to change it because the home should be habitable.


The Dept of Insurance was able to get a notice requesting that all pay at least 75% up front without inventory of losses, they had some success with insurance companies in that area. The law doesn’t dictate what the insurer is required to do, but did get good agreement within industry. If you didn’t get 75% of your contents, contact Dept of Insurance to make sure the company is held to what they had agreed to do.


It is important to look at the issue – again, the law is not great, but specific situations where the Dept of Insurance may be able to help. Need good accurate scope of loss to show you were underinsured. More documentation provided to support that you were underinsured helps them help you. If you can document that you went to your agent and asked for more coverage and they said “you’re fine”, CA Dept of Insurance can help to bump up coverages after-the-fact.

Availability of Homeowner’s Insurance (notes to add to the Rebuild Paradise presentation)

  1. If you had a total loss, the company cannot cancel policy due to total loss. Must renew at next renewal. Not required to renew more than once by law.

  2. While they have limited authority with non-admitted insurance companies, still come to Dept of Insurance if you have issues with them – if a non-admitted company goes bankrupt, likely there would be no help. But if they are not performing on policies they write, the Dept of Insurance could STOP them from writing.

  3. The Dept of Insurance is working on new legislation to make sure the individual homeowners understand what insurance companies are looking for in wildfire risk. They want insurance companies to report to consumers their FireLine and Protection Class scores. Communities can work to keep their PC score down. Individuals should be able to work with defensible space, etc to keep their individual address-specific FL score down. Some companies choose not to write policies regardless of individual mitigations and low PC scores. He feels they should be required to write policies – with mitigation credit as they apply. These are issues that will be pursued in coming legislative session (not in place now).

  4. Agent-Finder to help find insurance options. On their website, they are working on an agent-finder application that should be ready in about a month at It will also describe the insurance companies each agent writes for. Check with your local agents and brokers first. If can’t get insurance or you want to shop around for more affordable options, use the Dept of Insurance website. They want to have it describe which companies are writing in which areas and for which FL scores and PC scores. Want people to start knowing their scores – if denied coverage for the scores, should know what score is and have ability to appeal score if it is in error. This will come with future legislation, it is not in place now.

Claims Mediation

A Mediation Program is in place and is FREE to consumers. A judge will look at claimed losses and decide what action is fair. Insurance companies are required to enter mediation, although it is not binding. If you don’t agree (or the insurance company doesn’t agree) either party can walk away.

Kyla Awalt, Founder and President

Jenna Murray-Johnson, Executive Direcor

Butte County, CA

ID# 68-0161455

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