The past few weeks have been busy for the Farmers Catastrophe bus fleet; as one bus was helping wildfire victims in Colorado, another was being deployed to the gas explosion in San Bruno.
While in San Bruno, the Farmers Cat Bus serviced about 100 customers (see above photo) who came to the bus to report their claim and begin the recovery process. We issued advance checks so people could check into a hotel or purchase clothing, since many had evacuated with just the clothes on their backs. Unlike a wildfire, where you have warning and choose whether or not to evacuate, these people had no choice. The fire was unexpected and people had to scramble to leave their homes.
We also helped noncustomers connect with their own insurance company. At a location such as this, we will help anyone and they can use our phones to contact their carrier and begin the claims process, regardless of who they are insured with, since we are all in this together.
Some of our customers came to us without knowing where their family members were or some had already lost family members. In these cases, we just let them talk and made sure their adjuster knew their situation. One woman had lost her grandmother and the claims rep that took her loss report and started the claims process assigned the claim to himself to make sure the customer did not have to explain the whole situation to a new adjuster. The two made a connection.
We also helped those passing by find the nearby shelter while others were simply looking to make donations.
After seeing the aftermath of the San Bruno fire, my advice is to always have a go pack ready, have your pictures digitally stored, procure a safety deposit box and make sure all your personal effects are in order. You never know when you are going to have to leave at a moment’s notice. We all think these things cannot happen to us. I have found that it can, because it does.
For emergency and neighborhood information regarding the San Bruno fire, you may go to http://sanbruno.ca.gov.