26 Insurers Extend Time for 2017 California Wildfire Victims for Living Expenses

October 18, 2019

Twenty-six insurers have agreed to extend the time limits for 2017 wildfire survivors to access additional living expense benefits.

The companies represent a majority of the total losses from the devastating 2017 wildfires that struck Santa Rosa and other parts of Northern California, according to the California Department of Insurance.

The carriers agreed after requests were made by California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara appealed to them to stand by their customers who are still in the process of rebuilding their homes.

With only roughly 20 percent of homes rebuilt today, many survivors have faced unavoidable delays due to the scale of destruction and construction labor shortages, according to the CDI.

Lara asked insurance companies to honor the spirit of a new state law passed in the wake of the deadly 2017 fires by extending additional living expense, or ALE benefits, from 24 to 36 months.

“Two years is clearly not enough time for people to get back on their feet in a disaster of this magnitude,” Lara said in a statement. “The voluntary action by 26 insurance companies to extend additional living expense time limits is a step that will bring relief to those with benefits remaining while they continue to rebuild.”

ALE coverage typically includes additional food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, and extra transportation expenses, among other reimbursable costs. ALE benefits differ by insurance company. Some plans have a set dollar limit, some have a time limit, and others have no limits.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic 2017 wildfires, Senate Bill 894, Assembly Bill 1772 and Assembly Bill 1800 increased the 24-month mandatory ALE coverage period to a minimum of 36 months if a policyholder acting in good faith and with reasonable diligence encounters delays in the reconstruction process of their home.

Lara first made the request to insurance companies to voluntarily extend ALE benefits in May at a meeting with Sonoma County fire survivors, and he renewed it in a September letter to survivors as the two-year anniversary of the deadly blazes approached.

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