California looks to develop insurance fixes for consumers impacted by wildfires

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones introduced legislation this week designed to strengthen consumer protections for people making insurance claims related to the California wildfires.

Wildfires in Northern and Southern California brought the largest loss of life and destruction of property in the state’s history. There have been more than $9 billion in claims so far.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), which represents the insurance industry, is supportive of legislative action that helps consumers.

“We look forward to reviewing this wildfire recovery legislative package and working with the commissioner and these legislators,” Mark Sektnan, vice president, state government relations for PCI, said. “Our goal is to develop measures that will protect policyholders and improve the recovery process without creating unintended consequences that damage California’s highly competitive homeowners’ insurance marketplace.”

Many insurers have implemented expedited claims in California to jump start policyholders’ recovery. Specifically, they have advanced payment of additional living expenses, advanced payment of personal property coverage, and expedited debris removal.

“Insurers must be able to maintain underwriting controls in order to provide the wide variety of insurance products that help protect consumers,” Sektnan said. “If underwriting tools are limited, consumers could be harmed and face fewer options to meet their specific insurance needs. Insurers must also retain the tools necessary to manage their solvency to pay claims.”

Sektnan said insurers are committed to working with policymakers to design feasible legislation that helps policyholders and keeps the state’s insurance market healthy.