Watch CBS News

California Burning: Protections for Fire Victims, Evacuees


Unfortunately, there's a history of some hotels jacking up prices when disasters hit. Now that a State of Emergency has been declared, that's illegal.
In fact, it's a crime to raise prices by more than 10% in affected counties for anything including housing, gas, food, building materials and storage services.
Those caught ripping off fire victims could face a year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

You should report any price gouging to the local Sheriff or to the State Attorney General.


Cal OES publishes this list of counties currently under price gouging protections, along with the date the protections are set to expire.


Evacuees could be eligible for help with expenses under their current homeowner or renter insurance policies.

California's  Insurance Commissioner is reminding residents who have been ordered to evacuate due to wildfires to check existing insurance policies for
Additional Living Expense Coverage, or ALE. ALE coverage typically includes food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, and extra transportation expenses.

"Wildfires are devastating both to homes and people's lives, even if you don't suffer property damage. I want evacuees to know additional living expense coverage can be available to help with the stress and financial burden of mandatory evacuations," said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. "Residents who have been evacuated should contact their insurance agent or insurance company to find out what their renters' or homeowners' policy covers and other resources that may be available to them while the mandatory evacuation orders are in place."

When talking to an insurance company about coverage keep all written communications and document the date, time and name of the person you speak to along with details of the conversation.


  • Policy provisions, including deductibles, vary by company, and residents should check with their insurance company or agent as soon as possible to confirm coverage, limits, and any other limitations and documentation requirements. Most renter's policies also typically include ALE coverage.
  • Consumers should make sure any insurance agent or public adjuster offering their services has a valid license by checking online with the Department of Insurance.
  • Download the Department's Top 10 Tips for Wildfire Claimants (also available in Spanish), which includes information about claiming ALE benefits.
  • Public adjusters cannot solicit business for seven calendar days after the disaster.
  • Don't forget copies of insurance policies, important papers, and a photo or video inventory of your possessions. An inventory can be completed quickly and easily on your smartphone and safely stored in the cloud.
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.