California Commissioner Declares Insurance Emergency to Expedite Fire Claims Processing

November 17, 2008

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner declared an insurance emergency to cut red tape and allow insurance companies to use out of state adjusters to more quickly work through the spate of fire claims.

“Hundreds of people have lost their homes during this last week’s wildfires and we must do everything we can to make sure their insurance claims are handled as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Poizner. “I am issuing a declaration to allow additional insurance adjusters to come to California and assist in handling these wildfire claims. I will continue to monitor the situation and will ensure that insurance companies are being responsive and fulfill their legal obligations.”

The Commissioner’s declaration will allow Department of Insurance (CDI) licensed insurance adjusters and insurers to use the services of non-CDI licensed adjusters, such as adjusters from other states, to assist with the processing of the high number of anticipated insurance claims arising from the fires. The work performed by the non-CDI licensed adjusters must be under the active direction, control, charge or management of a CDI-licensed insurer or adjuster.

The California Department of Insurance has issued licenses to approximately 1,500 resident independent adjusters who are well versed in the California Fair Claims settlement practices regulations. The Commissioner encourages carriers to use these resident independent adjusters first. In the event that insurance carriers become overwhelmed with the quantity of claims and require additional claims-handling support, the declaration enables them to handle the influx expediently, to get victims paid and their damages fixed as quickly as possible.

Commissioner Poizner issued the declaration in accordance with the requirements of Section 14022.5 of the California Insurance Code, which provides that such use is reasonably necessary in order to adequately respond to the emergency situation. The text of the declaration is below.

Similar insurance emergencies were declared in January, during the aftermath of severe winter storms and in October 2007, for firestorms which inflicted more than $2 billion in damages.

Commissioner Poizner is actively monitoring the Southern California wildfires. On Sunday, he visited the Freeway Complex Fire and received a briefing from local fire authorities. He also visited an evacuation center at Katella High School, where he counseled fire victims on the first steps to recovery. He and CDI staff are in constant communication with the insurance industry.

For more information, contact CDI at 800-927-HELP.

Source: CDI

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