News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: January 29, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Hosts Insurance Recovery Forum to Assist Santa Barbara Wildfire Survivors with Recovery Efforts
SANTA BARBARA - California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner hosted a town hall-style Insurance Recovery Forum for Tea Fire survivors on Thursday in Santa Barbara. Commissioner Poizner was joined by local, state and federal officials, as well as representatives from the insurance industry who answered specific insurance questions for fire victims.
"Thousands of homeowners were hit hard by the November wildfires in Southern California, and my heart goes out to all fire survivors for everything they have had to endure," said Commissioner Poizner. "The Tea Fire ripped through the Santa Barbara community, destroying two hundred-nine homes. But I want all fire victims to know that they are not alone on the road to recovery. My Department is here to help until every last insurance claim is paid."
Since the wildfires broke out in Southern California in November, 5,151 residential and commercial property claims have been filed, and 718 of those claims are known to be total losses, with an estimated exposure for insurers of $637 million. More than $250 million has been paid out by insurers so far.
As a result of the Tea Fire, 793 residential and commercial property claims have been filed, and 217 of those claims are known to be total losses, with an estimated exposure for insurers of $281 million. Nearly $122 million has been paid out by insurers to Tea Fire survivors. Commissioner Poizner has ordered his Department to continually monitor these numbers to make certain that insurers are meeting their obligations to pay all valid claims presented to them.
The Department's Consumer Services Division has received 60 consumer complaints from fire survivors. Seven of those complaints are from the Tea Fire. Two of the complaints from the Tea Fire are related to underinsurance. The remaining complaints include claim denial, claim delay and low settlement offers.
Commissioner Poizner will continue to monitor the wildfire recovery efforts, assist consumers with complaints and make sure that insurance companies are fulfilling their legal obligations to customers. He will also continue to host Insurance Recovery Forums in the communities impacted by the recent wildfires. Commissioner Poizner hosted an Insurance Recovery Forum for Sayre Fire survivors on January 7. He will host a Forum for Triangle Fire survivors on February 4.
At Commissioner Poizner's Insurance Recovery Forum, he was joined by Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, and representatives from the following agencies: the California Department of Insurance, Small Business Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and insurance companies with policyholders in the fire-impacted areas.
Following the October 2007 wildfires, Commissioner Poizner hosted Insurance Recovery Forums for fire survivors in Malibu, Ramona, La Mesa and San Bernardino County, connecting survivors with the resources they needed to get back on their feet quickly.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
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