Governor signs legislation to help consumers understand homeowner’s insurance policies

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SACRAMENTO—Yesterday Governor Brown signed AB 2229, one of several bills Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced to address the many challenges residents have experienced related to California’s wildfires and the rebuilding process.

“I introduced this bill to require insurance companies to provide more clear and definitive information about available discounts and fire safety programs to policyholders and to incentivize homeowners to better understand and take advantage of any fire safety-related discounts offered by their insurer,” said Wood.

AB 2229 would require a disclosure that is provided to homeowners on and after January 1, 2020, to include any fire safety-related discounts offered by the insurer.

“Devastating disasters like the massive wildfires and mudslides we continue to experience throughout California have exposed significant gaps and deficiencies in how we protect our residents,” said Wood. “To address these challenges, I have introduced this bill and five others, including AB 1875, AB 1919, AB 2228, AB 2913 and AB 2267, to address a number of issues. These five bills are currently pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee and are scheduled to be heard in August.”

As the victims of the wildfires and mudslides turned to their insurance companies for help, many discovered that their policy was not going to be enough to rebuild their homes and their lives. AB 1875 would help homeowners find insurance companies that offer policies that provide extended replacement coverage of more than 100 percent through the creation of a website-based California Home Insurance Finder provided by the Department of Insurance.

“We have learned painfully, whenever a widespread disaster hits like these did, whether it is a fire, earthquake or flood, the expense and effort of rebuilding is exponentially more expensive than replacing a single home, and we need to help consumers better understand the insurance they have and the options available to them,” said Wood.

“Sadly, instances of price gouging were reported following the wildfires,” said Wood. “To prevent this from happening during declared disasters, AB 1919 would close a loophole that allows certain homeowners and short-term vacation rental owners to charge as much as they want for rent in disaster zones.”

Many schools lost students who were displaced, and will remain displaced for an extended period of time, and they lost significant funding. AB 2228 will allow the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, for a state of emergency declared by the Governor in a county due to the 2017 wildfires, to make a supplemental payment for the 2019–20 fiscal year to a school district for 50 percent of what they would have normally received.

AB 2913, until January 1, 2024, will allow a permit to remain valid for three years rather than two. It would also authorize the building official to grant one or more extensions of not more than 180 days per extension if the permittee demonstrates justifiable cause.

“There was already an affordable housing crisis in California, and the wildfires have just made it worse,” said Wood. “So many people are choosing not to rebuild because they can’t afford to.” AB 2267 will help by providing a temporary relief from certain environmental review requirements for the City of Santa Rosa’s Downtown Station Area Specific Plan and residential projects on parcels owned by the City of Santa Rosa or the County of Sonoma within the City of Santa Rosa, allowing more dense housing projects to meet the needs of the community and help the economy.

“I am working hard to make sure all of these bills make it to Governor’s desk before Labor Day,” said Wood.