ACIC Backs Mediation Bill for Calif. Fire Victims

July 15, 2004

The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) has announced its support of mediation legislation that would be available to help victims of last years’ Southern California wildfires.

“This is a pro-consumer measure that will go a long way in helping fire victims resolve disputes with their insurers over claims for last year’s losses,” Jeff Fuller, ACIC executive vice president and general counsel, said. “Mediation is a widely recognized and valuable procedural tool for resolving disputes.”

The legislation is SB 64 by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough). It would authorize the California Department of Insurance to establish a mediation program for resolving disagreements over claims filed as a result of the 2003 wildfires, according to Fuller. He noted SB 64 also would make the mediation program available to victims of other disasters when the governor declares a state of emergency.

The bill is pending final Assembly action. If approved there, it would go back to the Senate for concurrence in Assembly amendments and then to the governor. If approved by the governor, it would become effective upon his signature as an urgency measure.

SB 64 is one of several measures that were introduced as a result of last year’s fires. Another bill, SB 1855 by Sen. Dede Alpert (D-San Diego), would expand an existing law requiring full disclosure of homeowner insurance coverages to policyholders. SB 1855, also supported by ACIC, is scheduled for hearing in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 4.

Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) is authoring AB 2199, which would require insurers to provide time extensions for rebuilding fire-destroyed dwellings.

Under the bill, an insurer would have to provide a six-month extension for good cause to complete work. The minimum time limit would be 24 months for losses resulting from disasters for which a state of emergency is declared. ACIC supports AB 2199.

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