A pair of bills from Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that will bring much-needed relief to wildfire victims struggling to recover losses from insurance companies cleared a key Senate committee late Wednesday despite intense lobbying from the insurance industry.
“We can’t sit idly by and allow people who lost their homes to be victimized again by an uncaring insurance industry that’s happy to sweep its shortcomings under the rug,” an impassioned Sen. Dodd said. “I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues who stepped up to support victims and advance consumer protections.”
Senate Bill 894 will guarantee up to three years of coverage for living expenses and requires insurance companies to renew policies for up to two years following a disaster. It also allows families to combine coverage categories. For example, if the cost to rebuild a house exceeds limits of the plan, families can apply unused contents coverage.
Senate Bill 1291 ensures independent insurance adjusters demonstrate their competence through background reviews and mandatory education. It comes in response to complaints from many wildfire victims about misrepresentations of current law by independent adjusters who currently lack any state training or competency standards.
“I often hear the insurance industry say they want to do right by their customers,” Dodd said. “It’s time for them to step up and prove it. Knowing that fires and other natural disasters will happen again, we have a moral imperative to act now to improve insurance coverage and enforce consumer protections.”
SB 894 moves next to the full Senate for a floor vote in about a month. In the meantime, Sen. Dodd will work with the Insurance committee chairman to address possible amendments. SB 1291 moves to the Appropriations committee.
A companion bill from Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, SB 897, which would make it easier for insured victims to recover losses, also cleared the committee.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa Counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.