California Hosts Insurance Recovery Forum for Wildfire Survivors

January 9, 2009

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is hosting town hall-style Insurance Recovery Forums for survivors of the November 2008 wildfires.

The first of such town hall meetings was held Jan. 8 in Sylmar, Calif. Commissioner Poizner was joined by local, state and federal officials, as well as representatives from the insurance industry who answered specific insurance questions for fire victims.

“Thousands of homeowners were hit hard by the November wildfires in Southern California, and my heart goes out to all fire survivors for everything they have had to endure,” Poizner said. “The Sayre fire ripped through the Sylmar community, destroying three 381 homes. But I want all fire victims to know that they are not alone on the road to recovery.”

Since the wildfires broke out in Southern California in November 2008, 4,968 residential and commercial property claims have been filed, and 837 of those claims are known to be total losses, with an estimated exposure for insurers of $721 million. More than $162 million has been paid out by insurers so far, according to the Department of Insurance.

As a result of the Sayre Fire, 1,847 residential and commercial property claims have been filed, and 383 of those claims are known to be total losses, with an estimated exposure for insurers of $118 million, CDI noted. Nearly $17 million has been paid out by insurers to Sayre Fire survivors. Commissioner Poizner has ordered his Department to continually monitor these numbers to make certain that insurers are meeting their obligations to pay all valid claims presented to them.

The Department’s Consumer Services Division has received 35 consumer complaints from fire survivors. Twenty of those complaints are from the Sayre Fire. Two of the complaints from the Sayre Fire are related to underinsurance. The remaining complaints involve claim denial, claim delay and low settlement offers.

Commissioner Poizner will continue to monitor the wildfire recovery efforts, assist consumers with complaints and make sure that insurance companies are fulfilling their legal obligations to customers. He will also continue to host Insurance Recovery Forums in the communities impacted by the recent wildfires.

Commissioner Poizner will hold an Insurance Recovery Forum for Triangle Fire survivors on Thursday, Jan. 15. He will host a Forum for Tea Fire survivors on Thursday, Jan. 29.

At Commissioner Poizner’s Insurance Recovery Forum, he was joined by Assemblymember Cameron Smyth, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alarcon, and representatives from the following agencies: the California Department of Insurance; Small Business Administration; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); California Department of Housing and Community Development, and insurance companies with policyholders in the fire-impacted areas.

Source: CDI

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