On August 20, 2020, California Department of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a release advising wildfire evacuees to keep all receipts for costs accrued, as they may be eligible for reimbursement from their homeowners or renters insurance company. Specifically, Commissioner Lara remarked that “additional living expense coverage can be available to help ease the financial burden of mandatory evacuations.” His release expressly advised homeowners that additional living expense coverage (“ALE”) can include food and housing costs, furniture rental, relocation and storage, as well as extra transportation expenses, even when homes are not damaged or destroyed.
As part of his continued efforts to assist wildfire evacuees, Commissioner Lara previously sponsored Senate Bill 872. That Bill was introduced on January 21, 2020 by Senator Bill Dodd and passed the Assembly insurance committee on a 12 to 0 vote on August 11, 2020. The Bill would expand the definition of additional living expenses that must be paid to homeowners for losses incurred in a state of emergency and require an advance payment of no less than four months for costs such as housing, furniture rental and transportation. It would also mandate an advance payment of no less than 25 percent of the policy limit for lost contents without submission of an inventory form and require insurers to provide homeowners a 60-day grace period for payment of residential premiums after an emergency. Insurers would be barred from deducting the land value from payouts for insureds who build on new lots.
We will continue to monitor the Bill and Commissioner Lara’s additional responses as wildfires continue to ravage California.