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SACRAMENTO, Dec. 12, 2018 – With nearly 20,000 homes and structures damaged or destroyed by the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires, residents in counties across northern and southern California are getting access to burned home sites to confirm the terrible reality of their losses and begin the long road to insurance recovery.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced the results of claims data collected by the Department of Insurance from insurers processing fire related insurance claims for tens of thousands of policyholders. While the numbers are expected to climb, as more claims are filed and processed, the preliminary claims data reflects $9.05 billion in actual losses for commercial and residential coverage, personal and commercial vehicles, and agricultural and other coverages.
“The devastating wildfires of 2018 were the deadliest and costliest wildfire catastrophes in California’s history,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “The tragic deaths of 88 people and over $9 billion in insured losses to date are shocking numbers-behind the insured loss numbers are thousands of people who’ve been traumatized by unfathomable loss.”
Today’s announcement reflects the actual insured losses reported by insurers to date. The department will update loss figures in the coming months as insurers report more data. It is anticipated that, as both insurers and policyholders continue to access burn areas and claims are amended, insured losses will rise.
Commissioner Jones visited towns and neighborhoods burned by the wildfires and took immediate action to assist wildfire survivors by dispatching his consumer services team to every local assistance center to personally meet with consumers and help them begin the claims process and answer questions about department resources.
Jones also issued a formal notice to insurers asking them to expedite claims, by cutting through red tape, issuing checks immediately for four months of out of pocket costs, and doing all they can do to help policyholders who are likely to have little or no documentation that insurers normally require.
Jones also issued a declaration of an emergency, which allows the insurers to tap out-of-state claims adjusters from their other offices to deal with the huge volume of claims. This is an important step in increasing the claims processing capacity for insurers and helping speed the recovery and rebuilding process. At the same time, Jones issued a formal notice to insurers that they are responsible for making sure out of state staff are trained in California’s stronger consumer protection laws.
Jones deployed detectives from the Department of Insurance to the burned communities to deter scam artists who prey on vulnerable fire survivors. Jones also issued an important caution for wildfire survivors. Be careful to check the license of contractors who solicit your business-this is done quickly on the Contractors State License Board using a smart device.
Jones also noted that public adjusters are restricted from soliciting business from residents until seven days after evacuation orders are lifted. Consumers that have any questions or difficulty with their insurer should contact the department’s consumer services team at 800-927-4357 or at the Local Assistance Centers. In the wake of the 2017 fires, the Department was able to obtain over $52 Million for fire survivors in addition to amounts the insurers were already paying for claims.