A recent article in the Los Angeles Times (see link below) details the struggles that many people in northern California have faced in the wake of devastating fires that swept through the area late last year. Thousands of homes were destroyed in counties across the state. As the newspaper reports, 44 people died. Sadly, in the wake of this tragedy has come the inevitable reminder: in the words of the LA Times headline ‘your insurance company is not your friend.’
I wrote about this issue six months ago after hurricanes hit Florida and Texas. In the wake of the California wildfires the core issues are similar: an industry that will use the fine print to its advantage whenever possible, blithely ignore rules and regulations and do everything it can to do as little as possible for its customers, all while assuring them that it is there to ‘help’.
According to the LA Times the specific issue in California has been an influx of “adjusters who poured in from other states to help companies process claims” and who then “misinformed policyholders about their rights.” The paper reports that many of the out-of-state adjusters came from the South and were clearly unfamiliar with California law, which provides far stronger consumer protections than are in effect in many other parts of the country. Many of the out-of-state adjusters also appear not to have been properly registered to work in California, the paper reports. In the wake of lawsuits filed by victims, the paper quotes a spokesperson for the California Department of Insurance saying that “the agency is already investigating whether unregistered and unsupervised adjusters worked the Northern California fires.”