Insured losses from October wildfires top $3 billion statewide
News: 2017 Press Release
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Fifteen major insurers reported updated claims loss data to Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones revealing the new total of insured losses from the state's October wildfires now tops $3 billion—a three-fold increase in just two weeks—and expected to climb still higher according to department officials.
"As shocking as $3 billion in insured losses are, the number is sure to grow, as more claims are coming," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The insured losses only tell part of the tragic story of the October fires. We must remember that 43 people lost their lives and behind every insurance claim is someone who has lost their home, their business, and their precious memories. It will take years for these communities to recover and rebuild."
The latest report notes the widespread destruction resulted in damaging or destroying more than 14,700 homes, 728 businesses, and more than 3,600 private autos, commercials vehicles, and agricultural equipment and watercraft.
Commissioner Jones visited the wildfire zones throughout northern California and met with residents in the local assistance centers where he heard first-hand the harrowing stories of loss from victims who escaped with only minutes to spare. Jones took extraordinary steps to assist wildfire victims by dispatching detectives from the department's law enforcement team to educate residents about how to avoid being victimized by scam artists who prey on vulnerable residents after disasters and sending consumer services teams to every local assistance center to personally meet with consumers and help them begin the claims process and answer insurance-related questions. As of October 29, the department's consumer services team assisted 1,163 individuals across the state, the majority of which were in Northern California.
Earlier this month, Jones also 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. When processing 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.
He also directed the licensing department to issue a notice to all licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to remind them of the rules, regulations, and limitations on solicitation and compensation that govern public adjusters' work in California. 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.
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- 15 insurers have provided updated claims loss data, including the following:
- 10,016 residential properties that are partial losses
- 4,712 residential properties that are total losses
- 728 commercial property losses, which includes commercial businesses and multi-family (apartments) with four or more units
- Over 3,200 personal auto losses
- 91 commercial vehicle losses
- 153 farm or agriculture equipment losses
- 111 watercraft
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $371 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.