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Legislation designed to help wildfire survivors rebuild passes Senate

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: May 29, 2018
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Legislation designed to help wildfire survivors rebuild passes Senate floor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that a bill he sponsored to assist wildfire survivors underinsured after losing their home has passed the Senate Floor. Senate Bill 894, authored by Senator Bill Dodd, will help wildfire survivors and homeowners in a number of important ways as they begin to rebuild their lives after a devastating disaster.

"This is an important bill that will not only assist current wildfire survivors, but will also help to jump start the rebuilding and economic recovery process," said Commissioner Jones. "Residents who have lost everything are struggling to recover and rebuild their homes and lives. This bill will provide much-needed protections and improve chances for recovery."

SB 894 provides survivors the option to combine various coverages within their homeowner policy to offset any underinsured amount in their primary dwelling. This provision would only be triggered in the event of a total loss following a declared disaster where the survivor is underinsured in their primary dwelling or Coverage A. Underinsurance is not only a financial blow to disaster survivors, it is economically devastating to communities because, as one of the most challenging obstacles to loss recovery, it causes claim settlements to be delayed.

SB 894 would extend policy renewal protections for survivors retroactively to July 1, 2017 to alleviate the burden on survivors who find it impossible to get new coverage during the planning and rebuilding phase of the recovery. Under this bill, survivors would be able to renew their insurance policy twice, which would cover two years after the loss. The bill would also extend the amount of time to collect living expenses from two years to three. Both provisions reflect the reality that it takes most survivors more time than currently permitted to rebuild or replace the total loss property. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24-11 and now moves on to the State Assembly. Only one Democrat opposed the bill.

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Media Note:

Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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