In January, state legislators introduced bills to increase and/or extend insurance coverage to policyholders facing declared disasters.
SB 897 would mandate that following a declared state of emergency, insurers would offer policyholders a settlement equal to 80 percent of their contents coverage without requiring them to submit a detailed inventory, applicable to claims filed July 1, 2017 and on. The bill was authored by Senator Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg. This is in contrast to the general requirement that policyholders compile a detailed inventory list of every item lost, original price, and purchase date. As many insureds are realizing following the California wildfires, this process can be both arduous and painful. The bill would still allow insureds to seek 100 percent of their policy limit if they choose to produce the full inventory list.
SB 894 would allow for future disaster victims with not enough coverage on their main structure but more than enough under other limits to apply the unused coverage toward the structure. Additionally, under the bill insurers would be required to offer to policy renewals following a natural disaster at least twice or for 24 months, whichever is greater. Currently, insurers must only renew once. The bill would also extend the time to collect additional living expenses after a disaster from 24 months to 36 months.
AB 1797 would require insurers to conduct a replacement cost estimate when selling or renewing a residential policy. Insurers when conducting a replacement cost estimate must adhere to the insurance department’s methodology.
AB 1800 would allow policyholders the right to collect full replacement cost of their home after a total loss regardless whether they buy a home elsewhere or replace the home at a different location. Currently, some insurers will not allow policyholders who purchased extended replacement cost or building code upgrade coverage to collect when building or buying at a different location.
Finally, Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, introduced AB 1875, that mandates replacement cost coverage of a minimum of 50 percent when issuing or renewing a residential insurance policy.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has commented that the bills would provide reasonable, common-sense solutions.