News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: September 10, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Offers Support To San Bruno Explosion And Fire Victims, Reminds Them That Insurance May Cover Living Expenses
Also provides important insurance tips to survivors who have suffered losses
After dozens of homes were destroyed and lives were tragically lost as a result of last night's deadly explosion in San Bruno, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner offered his support to victims and reminded residents who have lost their homes or were evacuated due to the explosion that they may be eligible for reimbursement for additional living expenses due to mandatory evacuations.
"My heart goes out to all the San Bruno residents who suddenly lost their homes last night, and to the families who tragically lost loved ones in the deadly explosion," said Commissioner Poizner. "The flames may be extinguished, but the recovery process is only just beginning. I urge all evacuees to check their homeowners insurance policies - you may be eligible to be reimbursed for additional living expenses incurred as a result of evacuating. If anyone has questions or needs assistance navigating the process, I encourage them to call our Consumer Hotline at 800-927-HELP."
Many residential homeowners insurance policies cover what is known as ALE, or additional living expenses. This permits homeowners to maintain their normal standard of living by covering the increased living expenses incurred as a result of damage caused by the fire or a mandatory evacuation. ALE coverage typically includes extra food costs, increased housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage costs, telephone installation and extra transportation costs to and from school or work.
Commissioner Poizner will be dispatching CDI staff to San Bruno, to directly address the insurance needs and concerns of anyone impacted by the explosion and fire. The Department of Insurance is in direct contact with insurers and closely monitoring the insurance claims filing process to make sure that fire victims receive prompt attention and that their claims are paid as quickly as possible. Additionally, the Commissioner plans to hold an Insurance Recovery Forum in San Bruno to further assist anyone impacted by the explosion. Details on the forum will follow.
Commissioner Poizner offered the following tips to survivors who have suffered losses:
· Contact your insurance company immediately to report your loss. Follow the instructions given to you by claims personnel. Ask questions if you do not understand your adjuster's instructions. From the beginning, keep a log of the names of the people you speak with along with dates, times, and a summary of the pertinent points of each conversation.
· Act prudently to prevent further loss to your property. Insurance policies may not cover ensuing damage if you have not taken reasonable steps to protect against subsequent property damage.
· Take pictures documenting damages.
· Do not rush into repairs or rebuilding without first considering all your alternatives.
· Ask your insurance agent or company representative to help you with your claim, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Your insurer provides an adjuster at no charge to you. If you decide to work directly with your insurer, you still have the right to hire a third-party professional (e.g., public adjuster or lawyer) to help you.
· If you hire a public adjuster or attorney to help you with a claim, be certain that the adjuster is licensed and that the lawyer is in good standing. Public adjusters and lawyers will usually require a percentage of the claim settlement for their services. It is important that you understand what services are being provided and the fees that will be charged. Ask your friends, relatives, or business associates for the names of well-regarded professionals in your community.
· To verify a public adjuster's license, call the CDI.
· To learn about attorneys and standards for lawyer-client fees, or to file a complaint against an attorney, contact the California State Bar at 800-843-9053.
· Do not repair or replace your loss without first getting instructions from your adjuster, since your insurer's visual inspection of your loss may be necessary before repairs begin.
· Do not throw away damaged property until your adjuster advises you it is all right to do so.
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.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.