In a Notice dated October 2, 2020, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara of the California Department of Insurance (the “Department”) requested that all residential property insurance companies doing business in the state provide relief to policyholders who suffered a loss in the recent California wildfires. This request is similar to those issued by Commissioner Lara during previous wildfires.

Specifically, this Notice addresses the policyholder obligation to identify every item of personal property that may have been lost in the recent wildfires in order to collect the replacement cost of such property.

In the Notice, Commissioner Lara asked insurance companies to provide greater flexibility in regards to such an obligation, including requesting that all residential property insurers:

  • Waive the requirement of completing a personal property inventory to collect all or a significant portion of personal property (or contents) policy coverage limits.
  • At a minimum, offer current wildfire claimants a payment under the Contents (personal property) coverage in an amount no less than 30% of the policy limit applicable to the covered dwelling structure, up to a maximum of $250,000, without requiring the policyholder to file an itemized personal property inventory.1

These requests apply to all policyholder homes that suffered a total loss, unless the insurer has reason to believe the home was not furnished.

Commissioner Lara requests that all residential property insurers advise the Department by October 23, 2020, regarding whether they will comply with the requests in this Notice and what percentage of total contents coverage they will provide without requiring a detailed personal property inventory.   

1 On September 29, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 872 and AB 3012, which, among other things, will require residential property insurance companies to offer this relief by July 1, 2021.