CA Insurance Commissioner Want Residents Know Rights in Case of Wildfire Damage

Firefighters had to contain a small brush fire caused by fireworks on Thursday night, June 18. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While Burbank residents are not currently affected by the recent wildfires, they may have relatives or friends who are. There is also the possibility that a wildfire similar to the one in Burbank a couple of years ago may happen with three months still to go during brush fire ‘season’.

With that aid, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has sent out the following letter to help anyone who may be caught in this dire situation and Burbank City Officials have asked us to share it with the public:

California is facing an unprecedented moment in time battling wildfires throughout the state. I, with the rest of my dedicated staff at the California Department of Insurance, am committed to continuing to serve California consumers during this extraordinary time.

In an effort to further assist survivors, displaced residents, and businesses affected by the current and recent wildfires, and in recognition of Governor Gavin Newsom’s declared state of emergency on August 18, 2020, I have directed the California Department of Insurance (CDI or Department) to take a number of actions with more ahead. Following is an update of recent wildfire actions that may be helpful to you and your constituents (with more complete details in the full notices):

o Billing Grace Period: All insurers should grant billing leniency for at least 60 days for policyholders in designated wildfire disaster areas.

o Loss of Use, Fair Rental Value or Additional Living Expenses (ALE): Insurers should adopt a standard ALE advance payment of at least 4 months for a total loss. Additional ALE beyond the 4 months should be available upon proper proof following the advance period, upon request of the policyholder.

o Personal Property (Contents): Insurers should provide an initial contents advance payment of at least 25% of policy limits for a total loss of the primary residence in a wildfire disaster without the completion of an inventory. Additional contents payments should be available upon proper proof provided by and upon request of the policyholder.

o Inventory Forms: Insurers should not require that the policyholder use a company-specific inventory form if the policyholder can provide an inventory using a form that contains substantially the same information.

o Inventory Itemization: Insurers should agree to accept an inventory that includes groupings of categories of personal property, including, but not limited to, clothing, shoes, books, food items, CDs, DVDs, or other categories of items for which it would be impractical to separately list each individual item claimed.

o Vehicle Claims: Upon satisfaction of proof of claim, insurers should expedite payment of automobile property damage claims under comprehensive loss coverage.

o Debris Removal: Insurers should cooperate with a consolidated debris removal process that may be coordinated through city, county, and state agencies, unless the insurer can provide more rapid debris removal outside of the state and local government coordinated effort.

As always, consumers are encouraged to contact CDI at 1-800-927-4357 or online at to speak with an expert for help with their questions, concerns, and any claims issues.

My Legislative, Community Relations, and Outreach teams continue to be available to you and your staff during this time. Please remain safe and remember that we will get through these extraordinary times together.

In solidarity,

Insurance Commissioner

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