Insurance bills look to address complaints about wildfires

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California lawmakers said Tuesday they're introducing a variety of bills to protect consumers who lose their homes in major disasters - a response to complaints about insurance companies from people who lost their homes in last year's destructive wildfires. (KGO-TV)

The North Bay wildfires dealt a double blow to some survivors. They lost their homes and their trust in their insurance companies.

RELATED: Some under-insured North Bay fire victims in for a shock

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and lawmakers from the devastated communities unveiled a package of 8 bills, 6 have already been introduced, designed to help cut through red tape. Jones says "Californians hard hit by these disasters should not be hung up by insurance company red tape as they try to rebuild their lives."

According to Jones the wildfires in the Wine Country and Southern California resulted in 30-thousand insurance claims, with a total of 9.4 Billion dollars. He believes reforms are needed.

The package includes one authored by North Bay Assemblywoman Cecilia Agular-Curry. It would extend the time to rebuild and collect full insurance replacement costs from 24 months to 36 months.

RELATED: Insurance renewals at risk after fires in Sonoma, Napa counties

Another by State Senator Mike McGuire of Healdsburg would let homeowners avoid the process of having to itemize every item lost. McGuire says his proposal would allow policyholders to "forgo the itemized list and instead automatically provide at least 80 percent of the policy limit."

That is the key measure the consumer group, United Policy Holders is pushing. Amy Bach says some companies are already doing this voluntarily. One Industry head warns the package of reforms could lead to rising costs for all customers in California.

RELATED: North Bay fire victims face jail time for refusing to abandon mother's home in Fountaingrove

Mark Sektnan of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America says "It's great to provide additional reforms but we need to make sure that they're thoughtful and don't create problems like additional coasts that have to be passed on to the policy holders that may make the insurance unaffordable in these areas."

Most of the bills are geared for future disaster victims. But the McGuire measure that would allow homeowners to settle for 80 percent without itemizing their contents, would be retroactive. Both North Bay and Thomas fire victims in Southern California would be covered.

Click here for full coverage on the North Bay Fires.
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North Bay Fireswildfirefireinsurancecalifornia legislationlegislationpoliticsconsumerconsumer concernsSonoma
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