First available preliminary data release on deadly wildfires
News: 2017 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced preliminary data provided by eight California insurers processing claims for tens of thousands of policyholders. While the numbers are expected to climb, as more claims are filed and processed, the preliminary data reflects $1.045 billion in losses, commercial and residential structures, personal and commercial vehicles, and agricultural equipment.
"These numbers are just the beginning of the story as one of the deadliest and costliest wildfire catastrophes in California's history," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The tragic death of 42 people and over a billion in property losses are numbers—behind these numbers are thousands of people who've been traumatized by unfathomable loss. We must do all we can to ease their pain and help them recover and rebuild."
Commissioner Jones took extraordinary steps to assist wildfire victims by dispatching his consumer services team to every local assistance center to personally meet with consumers and help them begin the claims process and answer questions about department resources.
Last week he issued a notice to insurers asking them to expedite claims, by cutting through red tape and doing all they can do to help policyholders who are likely to have little or no documentation that insurers normally require.
Jones also signed a declaration of an emergency, which allows the insurers to tap out-of-state claims adjusters from their other offices, which effectively expands their claims adjuster workforce. Tens of thousands of claims, this is an important step in increasing the claims processing capacity for insurers and helping speed the recovery and rebuilding process.
Jones also has an important caution for wildfire victims. Be careful to check the license of contractors who solicit business—this is done quickly on the Contractors State License Board using a smart device.
Public adjusters are restricted from soliciting business from residents until seven days after evacuation orders are lifted. Consumers that have any difficulty with their insurer will find the department's consumer services team stands ready to assist at 800-927-4357. The department has recovered more than $300 million dollars for consumers since Jones took office in 2011.
The commissioner is also monitoring the Santa Cruz fire that broke on Monday and threatens more than 300 homes.
Media Note: Eight insurers have provided preliminary loss data and it includes the following:
- 4,177 partial residential losses
- 5,449 total residential losses
- 35 renters/condo losses
- 601 commercial property losses
- Over 3,000 auto losses
- 83 commercial auto losses
- 150 farm or agriculture equipment losses
- 39 boats
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.