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CA Department of Insurance

Insurers’ incorrect statements to fire victims lead regulator to issue formal notice

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: November 20, 2017
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurers’ incorrect statements to fire victims lead regulator to issue formal notice
Notice requires insurers to make sure their staff are trained in California laws and rules

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones directed the California Department of Insurance to issue a formal notice to insurers, licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.

On October 13, 2017, Commissioner Jones declared an emergency situation in California due to the fires, which allowed insurance companies to use out-of-state adjusters to handle the large volume of claims resulting from the North Bay Fires and other fires. Recently, the commissioner has received feedback from wildfire survivors, public officials, and others that some of the representations made by insurance adjusters conflict with California law.

"Helping residents start the claims process in the face of so many losses and claims necessitated extraordinary actions," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "While getting claims settled is a priority, it must be done according to the laws in place to protect policyholders through a difficult process. I issued this notice to remind insurers that claims adjusters must be properly trained and process all claims according to California law." Several fire survivors provided examples to the Department of incorrect insurer statements, such as:

  • Incorrect time frame provided to collect full replacement cost to rebuild. Policyholders were told they have between 6 and 12 months. In a state of emergency, as these fires were, policyholders have no less than 24 months under California law.
  • Advised that if they decide not to rebuild in the same location, the policyholder could not receive full replacement benefits. Instead, California law provides policyholders may choose to rebuild in the same location, a new location or purchase an already built home in another location.
  • Told additional living expense benefit would expire in 12 months. Under California law, in a state of emergency, policyholders have up to 24 months.

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Media Notes:

  • For consumers who need assistance or have questions regarding their policy or claim, contact the Department of Insurance hotline at 800-927-4357.
  • For any insurance claims adjusters with questions regarding this notice, call the Department of Insurance Licensing Hotline at (800) 967-9331.
  • To hear a digitized playback of the press conference, please call 800-475-6701 or 320-365-3844 (International callers) and enter access code: 433967. This playback is available at 1 pm on 11-20-17 and will end 11-27-17.

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 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.

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