USA — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the October 2007 wildfires, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that the Department of Insurance has recovered more than $12.7 million from insurance companies by standing up for consumers who had been shortchanged.
“I am pleased that the Department’s aggressive action on behalf of consumers has resulted in $12.7 million back in the pockets of wildfire survivors,” said Commissioner Poizner. “Insurers understand that I simply will not allow them to give consumers the runaround. I have personally called the CEOs of major insurance companies to make sure that individual claims are paid out quickly. I will continue to put pressure on any insurer not playing by the rules, and if they still refuse to honor their agreements with fire survivors, I will take appropriate action to enforce the law.”
To date, the Department of Insurance has recovered $12.7 million for 2007 wildfire survivors statewide. That includes:
* $9 million for San Diego consumers
* $1.9 million for Lake Tahoe/Angora wildfire survivors
* $1.3 million for San Bernardino residents
CDI was able to recover these funds for consumers that notified the Department of their problems and suspected unfair treatment by their insurer. CDI has received 549 consumer complaints since the fires broke out almost one year ago.
Of the 549 complaints received from consumers, 106 have involved underinsurance allegations. CDI has recovered more than $3.8 million for consumers who had complaints stemming from underinsurance issues. That includes nearly $2.6 million for San Diego wildfire survivors and nearly $1.2 million for Lake Tahoe/Angora wildfire survivors.
“I also want to remind wildfire survivors struggling with their insurance company who haven’t contacted the Department that we are here to help,” continued Commissioner Poizner. “I urge anyone having difficulty with their insurance company to contact the CDI Consumer Hotline at 800-927-HELP.”
As a result of the 2007 wildfires, nearly 39,000 claims were filed. To date, nearly 80 percent, or 30,000 claims have been closed after consumers have received payment from their insurance company. The fires caused $2.3 billion in losses.
Since the 2007 fires broke out, Commissioner Poizner has been taking action on behalf of consumers including:
* The Commissioner hosted a series of town hall-style Insurance Recovery Forums to assist fire survivors with their recoveries.
* Commissioner Poizner also brought CEOs and top executives of leading insurance companies together to announce voluntary claims handling reforms, which have helped to expedite recovery for wildfire survivors.
* The Commissioner also cut through the red tape and enabled survivors to be paid expediently when he declared an Insurance Emergency that allowed out-of-state adjusters to come to California and assist in the claims-paying process.
* Commissioner Poizner personally called the CEOs of the major homeowners insurance companies in the state to make sure that they were paying claims quickly to help get fire survivors back on their feet quickly.