SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to streamline the residential insurance claims process for victims of disasters including wildfires.
“Wildfires are causing incredible hardship and the last thing anyone needs is to be jerked around by their insurance company,” Sen. Dodd said. “In the future, when someone files a claim they won’t be buried under mountains of paperwork or suffer unnecessary delay. That isn’t right and this new law will put a stop to it. I thank Gov. Newsom for helping us make this important change.”
Senate Bill 872, sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, expands the definition of additional living expenses that must be paid to homeowners for losses incurred in a state of emergency. Upon submission of a claim, it requires an advance payment of no less than four months for costs such as housing, furniture rental and transportation. Also, it mandates an advance payment of no less than 25 percent of a policy limit for lost contents without submission of an inventory form. The bill was signed into law Tuesday.
“SB 872 will give future wildfire survivors greater peace of mind because they will be guaranteed time and resources to assist their recovery,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “I thank Gov. Newsom for recognizing the critical need for this legislation as so many parts of the state continue to be threatened by wildfires, and I thank Sen. Dodd for authoring this bill to protect residents and cut the red tape for accessing crucial insurance benefits.”
The bill, coauthored by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, makes insurers give homeowners a 60-day grace period for payment of residential premiums after an emergency. Also, insurance companies will be barred from deducting the land value from payouts for those who build on new lots.