Greater consumer protections coming in January 2019; especially for seniors and future fire survivors
News: 2018 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The new year will ring in with four additional bills sponsored by the California Department of Insurance taking effect January 1, 2019 and three other bills becoming active later in the year.
“In 2019 consumers, and in particular seniors and disaster survivors, will benefit from new insurance laws we sponsored to provide greater protection,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “These new laws will help safeguard consumers as they recover from disasters and other life changing events. We are very disappointed that the provisions of our sponsored bills which would have protected current fire survivors were stripped from the bills, but these new laws will still help future fire survivors.”
SB 894, authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) – Renewal and Additional Living Expense coverage
Senate Bill 894 helps underinsured homeowners rebuild their homes by allowing them to combine portions of their home insurance policy coverages. It also extends the insurance policy renewal protections for a homeowner suffering a total loss from one renewal to two renewals or 24 months. This law will allow consumers facing a total loss to generally have three years to utilize their Additional Living Expenses coverage, up from the current two. Effective January 1, 2019.
AB 1799, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) – Insurance policy documents
This law clarifies that insurers are required to provide one free, full set of policy documents, including any endorsements, and the policy declarations page, within 30 calendar days of a covered loss, upon request of the policyholder. Effective January 1, 2019.
AB 1797, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) – Replacement cost estimate
Assembly Bill 1797 will require insurers to either provide a policyholder with a full replacement cost estimate every other year or apply an inflation factor to the dwelling limit at each renewal and clearly offer the consumer the option to obtain a full replacement cost estimate. This law will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
AB 2180, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Improved long-term care insurance and accelerated death benefits
AB 2180 clarifies standards and processes for the certification of an insured's chronic illness, provides standardized terms and procedures for alternate plans of care, and defines certain benefit payment, claim, and application requirements with improved clarity and/or specificity. These changes will help insurers write more compliant forms and will eliminate delays in the policy approval process, which in turn will help insurers bring new insurance products to market faster, while providing consumers more products to choose from. These changes are effective January 1, 2019.
AB 2634, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D- Arcadia) – Universal life
Assembly Bill 2634 gives consumers more time to react to cost increases in their Flexible Premium Life Insurance policy. It requires an insurer to provide at least 90 days notice before any increase in the cost of insurance applies to consumers. Seniors have been hit hard by these increases. This new law also requires the insurer to generally provide an illustration showing the impact on the policy values and necessary premium payments before and after the increase.
AB 2045, authored by the Assembly Committee on Insurance – Omnibus provisions
This omnibus bill clarifies and improves various sections of the Insurance Code, the body of law that provides for consumer protections and regulation of insurance companies.
SB 824, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) – Fire risk information
Additionally, the department supported Senate Bill 824 which goes into effect January 1, 2019 and provides valuable information to the California Department of Insurance related to fire risk information on the residential property policies issued by insurers. It also prohibits an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew a policy based solely on the fact that the insured structure is located within or adjacent to the fire perimeter when a state of emergency has been declared.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 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 website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.