Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today issued a notice to insurers requesting they agree to expediting claims handling for Camp and Woolsey wildfire survivors in order to help them begin the recovery and rebuilding process more quickly.
With nearly 8,000 homes destroyed in both fires and up to 50,000 still at risk in the Woolsey Fire, thousands of residents face the long and painful task of recovery, which often includes trying to reconstruct destroyed or missing documents.
In an effort to speed recovery, Commissioner Jones is asking insurers to agree to claims handling procedures to bring more timely payments to policyholders and provides greater flexibility with some deadlines and documentation typically required by insurers.
“Victims of these devastating wildfires need all the help we can provide,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I am asking California insurers to adopt these expedited claims handling procedures to get help to policyholders more quickly, so they may begin working on rebuilding their homes and their lives.”
Camp Fire survivors lost everything, as most of Paradise was completely destroyed by the fast-moving fire, as a result, many policyholders do not have much of what insurers require to begin the claim process, including copies of insurance policies, home inventories, receipts, and vehicle ownership papers. The commissioner’s notice asking insurers to adhere to expedited claims handling procedures, policyholders may receive advance payment for up to four months of additional living expenses, 25 percent of policy limits for personal property, and an expedited process for debris removal—a first step in rebuilding.
These procedures speed payments for damaged or destroyed vehicles and provide at least 30 days billing leniency for lost renewal notices or those who do not have the ability to have mail forwarded.
Commissioner Jones also declared an emergency exists in California yesterday, which allows insurance companies to use out-of-state adjusters to respond more quickly to the large number of losses. Jones also mobilized the department’s resources to make sure consumers had access to the consumer assistance and support the department provides to help consumers navigate the insurance claims process. Consumers are able to get help from the department’s Consumer Service team at the Disaster Recovery Center in Chico.