California statewide wildfire insurance claims nearly $12 billion

LOS ANGELES, Calif. Jan. 31, 2018 — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that insurers have received nearly 45,000 insurance claims totaling more than $11.79 billion in losses from the devastating wildfires that burned across the state in October and December 2017 damaging and destroying more than 32,000 homes, 4,300 businesses, more than 8,200 vehicles, watercraft, farm vehicles, and other equipment.

“At nearly $12 billion in insured losses, these claim numbers are staggering and represent the costliest fires in California history,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “The fires were unprecedented for their severity and disastrous consequences. Whole neighborhoods were wiped out, as wind-driven flames destroyed thousands of homes, upended tens of thousands of residents’ lives and tragically killed more than 45 people across the state.”

Advertisement

Commissioner Jones took extraordinary actions under his authority to protect survivors and make sure insurers deliver on their promises to policyholders, so they may begin to recover and rebuild their lives after the wildfires ripped through more than 14 counties in October and December. One of Jones’ most recent actions included issuing a formal notice to insurers asking them to waive the requirement for policyholders to submit a detailed home inventory and pay up to 100 percent of contents coverage to spare survivors the arduous task of trying to recreate lists of every item they lost in the fires.

Insurers that did agree to Jones’ December notice make up more than 98 percent of the total loss claims filed as a result of the 2017 wildfires. The department continues communicating with insurers that have not agreed to increase their advance payment on contents claims to determine if they will reconsider their position. Policyholders should contact their insurer to confirm how much advance payment will be issued and if there are any exceptions that may exist for their claim.

Department personnel continue to assist consumers at local assistance and disaster centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara, including the hard-hit area of Montecito where tons of mud and boulders tore through neighborhoods destroying and damaging more than 400 homes and businesses and killing 21 people.

The department is encouraging residents and business owners in Santa Barbara County affected by the recent disasters, to file a claim with their insurance company. If consumers have issues navigating the claims process, or they think their claim was wrongfully denied they are encouraged to contact the Department of Insurance, 800-927-4357 or online at www.insurance.ca.gov for assistance.

Saturday, February 3, 2018 the Department of Insurance is hosting an Insurance Claims Workshop for residents in the City of Ventura from 10 a.m. to4 p.m. at Ventura College and one for survivors in Montecito and Santa Barbara at Santa Barbara City College from 4 to 6 p.m. The department encourages survivors to call toll-free 800-927-4357 to schedule an individual appointment, but also invites all survivors who need help navigating the claims process or have questions about their specific situation to attend the workshop for one-on-one meetings with the department’s consumer services team members.

Notes:

  • While each insurer agreed to advance at least a certain percentage on contents coverage, on most claims, there may be exceptions to this commitment. For example, if the home was not occupied or furnished, or if there are other facts that suggest the contents were not valued at that agreed-to percentage, then the insurer would handle those claims on a case-by-case basis.
  • These totals do not include any losses related to the Montecito mudslides.