ACIC Urges Governor to Sign Three Post-Fire Bills

August 19, 2004

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) today urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign into law three significant bills that respond to issues raised following last year’s Southern California wildfires.

All three bills received final legislative approval within the last few days, reported ACIC President Sam Sorich. “The Legislature is to be commended for responding to last year’s devastating fires with insightful analyses of the issues raised by the victims – and then crafting legislative actions,” Sorich said.

The bills are SB 1855 by Sen. Deirdre Alpert, D-San Diego; SB 64 by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and AB 2199 by Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego.

SB 1855 updates the disclosures that homeowners insurers must provide to their policyholders. The new disclosures help assure that policyholders have accurate and thorough explanations of the coverages in their homeowners insurance policies.

“In addition, the bill requires insurers to provide to policyholders the ‘California Residential Property Insurance Bill of Rights,’ which includes helpful advice to consumers and a listing of information that insurers can make available to their policyholders,” said Sorich.

SB 64 expands the Department of Insurance’s mediation programs to include disputes arising from claims under policies covering residential property insurance losses (other than earthquake losses) occurring since Sept. 30, 2003, when the losses result from a state of emergency declared by the governor.

“Mediation is a widely recognized and useful procedural tool for resolving disputes. Use of this tool by the Department of Insurance following a declared state of emergency can be highly productive in expeditiously resolving the large number of claims precipitated by a disaster,” said Sorich.

AB 2199 makes certain that homeowners who purchase full replacement cost policies will have enough time to rebuild their home. The bill provides that a full replacement cost policy may not include a time limit on payment that is less than 12 months, and an insurer must grant additional six-month extensions for good cause. SB 2199 sets a minimum 24-month time limit if the damage to the property was a result of a state of emergency.

In addition, the bill prohibits a full replacement cost policy from containing a provision that limits or denies payment in the event the homeowner decides to rebuild at another location.

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