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October wildfire claims top $9.4 billion statewide

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: December 6, 2017
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October wildfire claims top $9.4 billion statewide
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announces updated insured claims statewide data

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two months after more than 100,000 residents fled, as wind-whipped wildfires ripped through northern and parts of southern California, Commissioner Dave Jones revealed the latest statewide total of insured losses, which now tops $9.4 billion in residential and commercial claims from the October wildfires, which are now counted among the most deadly and costly in the state's history. The North Bay fires account for $9 billion in claimed losses alone.

"These numbers not only represent staggering losses to tens of thousands of Californians," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The October wildfires that devastated whole communities and tragically cost 44 people their lives have now proven to be the most destructive and deadliest in our state's history."

The latest report is the result of a formal data call in which more than 260 insurers reported their total claims as of December 1 and includes the destruction and damage for more than 21,000 homes, 2,800 businesses, and more than 6,100 private autos, commercial vehicles, and 788 losses involving other lines of insurance such as agricultural equipment and watercraft.

Commissioner Jones visited the wildfire zones throughout northern California and met with residents at 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 December 1, the department's consumer services team assisted more than 2,000 individuals across the state, the majority of which were in Northern California.

On December 9, 2017, the Department of Insurance will host the Insurance Recovery Workshop for North Bay residents at the Glaser Center—Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Rosa from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The workshop will include department experts and insurers to provide wildfire victims with one-on-one assistance with their specific insurance claim questions. Consumers will also find experts from the Contractors State License Board and FEMA offering assistance, as they work toward recovering and rebuilding their homes and their lives.

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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Media Notes: 260 insurers have provided updated claims loss data, including the following:

  • 15,359 residential properties that are partial losses
  • 5,747 residential properties that are total losses 
  • 2,814 commercial property claims resulting in 997 total losses, which includes commercial businesses and multi-family (apartments) with four or more units
  • Visuals of insured losses
  • List of Insurers

Following the fires, 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.

In November, Commissioner Jones issued 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.

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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