California Commissioner Issues Emergency Notice to Expedite Wildfire Claims

August 26, 2020

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Wednesday issued an emergency notice to all property/casualty insurance companies doing business in California, requesting they expedite claims handling for California wildfire survivors in order to help them begin the recovery and rebuilding process more quickly.

“Wildfire survivors need immediate help as they start on the long road to recovery,” Lara said in a statement. “These emergency expedited claims handling procedures will help policyholders as they begin to rebuild their lives and their homes. I urge insurance companies to do the right thing for these survivors and help them through this difficult process.”

Lara is asking insurance companies to provide greater flexibility to survivors affected by the wildfires with some deadlines and documentation typically required to pay claims, including:

  • Minimum four-month advance payment of Loss of Use, Fair Rental Value, or Additional Living Expenses
  • Minimum 60-day billing grace period to allow for lost or destroyed renewal notices
  • Advance payment of at least 25% of policy limits for personal property — without the completion of an inventory
  • Accepting any inventory form that contains substantially the same information as a company-specific form
  • Accepting an inventory that includes groupings of personal property, such as clothing, shoes, books, or food items rather than listing each individual item
  • Expediting payment of vehicle damage claims covered under comprehensive loss coverage
  • Cooperating with consolidated debris removal efforts coordinated through city, county, and state agencies, unless the insurer can provide more rapid debris removal outside of this effort

The department has issued similar notices after other devastating wildfires, including the Kincade fire last year, and the Camp, Woolsey, and Hill fires in 2018.

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