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Commissioner takes multiple actions to assist wildfire survivors statewide

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: August 1, 2018
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Commissioner takes multiple actions to assist wildfire survivors statewide
Jones issues emergency declaration and two notices to insurers to speed recovery efforts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has taken several actions to help protect thousands of wildfire survivors who face a long road recovering from the devastating fires that have destroyed or damaged at least a thousand homes in northern California.

The first action is a notice requesting insurers expedite claims handling procedures for wildfire damage claims, including being flexible with deadlines and documentation requirements, which should result in more timely payments to policyholders.

After wildfires, policyholders often find many of the things the insurance company needs to process their claim are missing or were destroyed in the fire, such as home inventories, receipts, bills of sale, and vehicle ownership papers. Under these expedited claims handling procedures, policyholders may receive advance payment for up to four months of additional living expenses, 25 percent of policy limits for personal property, and an expedited process for debris removal—a first step in rebuilding.

These procedures also speed payment for damaged or destroyed vehicles and provide at least 30 days billing leniency for lost renewal notices for those who do not have the ability to have mail forwarded.

“Survivors of these destructive wildfires need all the help we can provide,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I am asking California insurers to adopt the expedited claims handling procedures, move quickly to expand their claim adjuster teams to handle the large volume of claims and make sure those professionals are properly trained on California laws and regulations. We are focused on helping survivors, as they begin the long process of rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

Commissioner Jones also issued a declaration of an emergency situation caused by the fires, which allows insurers to respond more quickly by using qualified out-of-state adjusters who work under the insurance company’s California license.

Jones also directed the California Department of Insurance to issue a formal notice to all property insurers, independent insurance adjusters, and insurance agents and brokers, yesterday to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all other laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling, especially those that are triggered after a declared emergency such as these wildfires. Following last years’ wildfires, the commissioner received feedback from wildfire survivors, public officials, and others that some of the representations made by insurance adjusters conflicted with California law.

Commissioner Jones mobilized the department’s resources to make sure consumers have access to the assistance and support the department provides to help them navigate the insurance claims process. Jones is visiting the Redding burn areas Thursday to survey the damage, meet with residents, make sure insurers are on-site taking claims, and to meet with California Department of Insurance staff who were deployed on-site to assist residents. CDI staff are participating in Local Assistance Centers established in fire areas throughout the state.

Policyholders should contact their insurance company and insurance agent to begin the claims process. They may also contact the Department of Insurance Consumer hotline at 800-927-4357 to seek assistance or visit the Department’s website for tips and advice.

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Media Notes:

  • Commissioner Jones will arrive at the Local Assistance Center tomorrow at 10 a.m. to meet with survivors and insurers. At 12 p.m. Commissioner Jones will depart from the Local Assistance Center to tour the disaster areas including Sunset Terrance Community, Harlan Community and the City of Keswick.
  • Local Assistance Center opening Thursday, August 2nd
    • Shasta High School
      2500 Eureka Way
      Redding, CA 96001
      Dates: August 2-8
      Hours: 9am – 7pm
  • Link to the expedited claims handling notice 
  • Link to declaration
  • Link to California law notice

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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