Insurers Continue to Work Closely with 2003 California Fire Survivors

October 25, 2004

California insurers are continuing to work closely with their policyholders to pay more than $2.04 billion contained in 19,130 claims filed after the devastating 2003 Southern California wildfires, insurance trade association representatives reported recently.

“Today (Oct. 22) marks the first anniversary of the fires and insurers are working diligently with their policyholders to get them back into their homes as quickly as possible. As with any disaster, it takes time and patience to complete the building process,” the trade
representatives said.

The trade associations are: The American Insurance Association (AIA), Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) and the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC). Together they represent insurers that write more than 90 percent of the homeowners insurance sold in San Diego.

The comments by the associations are in conjunction with a public hearing that was called by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to discuss solutions to the issue of underinsurance experienced by some San Diego policyholders following the fires has been realized.

“Insurers work with homeowners to help them make the right coverage decisions. It makes no financial or business sense for insurance companies to intentionally underinsure their customers,” said the representatives of the trade associations.

“We join policyholders and the insurance commissioner in the search for solutions to any problems arising from the fires. Insurers are in business to help their policyholders with their claims and to provide claims service as problem-free as possible,” the trade representatives noted.

The CDI reports that it has received approximately 450 complaints out of the 19,130 insurance claims. About 215 of the complaints are related to underinsurance, according to CDI officials.

“Although the percentage of complaints is relatively small, insurers believe just one justified complaint is too many. It is our desire to help policyholders as much as possible through the always difficult recovery time,” explained the trade association officials.

“New lessons are learned from every disaster and last year’s firestorms were no exception. The insurance industry worked closely with the CDI and key legislators to help craft new laws that will help fire victims in the future,” the trade association
representatives concluded.

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