Friday, February 22, 2019

Homeowner's Insurance in California: Legal Rights (Part-2)

You find in this post a continuation of an overview of a few more California laws that protect the interests of policyholders.


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Living expenses

In cases where a claim is filed in a situation that the state has declared to be a ‘disaster’, an insurer must provide at least 24 months of Additional Living Expenses (ALE) benefits; this is subject to the limits provided for in the insurance policy. If you come to know what your ALE entitlements are, the insurer is bound to give you a list of items and expenses covered, whenever you ask for it.


In most cases, an advance ALE payment is released immediately after the calamity to help policyholders to recover, and find some strength to reestablish themselves. Further payments are released as and when expenses are incurred.


Fair claim settlement


An insurer cannot force a policyholder to accept a settlement that is unreasonably low or in violation of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Subject to policy limits, the settlement must provide for the restoration of the property to the condition it was in before the loss. Workmanship and materials should be of the same quality as before.


For example, if the home had had previously marble counters, the insurer cannot replace them by laminates. Furthermore, the insurer cannot demand that any specified contractor, company or individual do the repairs to the property. All that the insurer may do is to provide referrals, if the policyholder requires them.


Depreciation


The insurer cannot reduce payments/settlements you are entitled to under the terms of the insurance policy; they cannot unilaterally depreciate things that normally would not be replaced during the life of the structure, such as the foundation or the framing, etc.


Should any dispute arise about any depreciation calculation, you have the right to ask the insurer to spell out clearly how the depreciation was calculated; this must be given to you as you can study how it has affected the settlement offer.


Examination under oath

The insurer may ask you to be examined under oath about a claim you have filed. If that happens, the questions asked should be relevant to the processing of your claim; you are entitled to receive a transcript or recording of the examination.


You can then provide clarifications or rectifications of any answers you had given under oath. You can also ask the insurance company to give you a copy of the questions before the examination, but they are not bound to supply this.


Complaints against the insurer


Should you desire to file a complaint with the California Department of Insurance, the insurance company cannot retaliate against you in anyway, withhold your payments, intimidate, or threaten you in a bid to prevent you from filing the complaint. Moreover, the company cannot advise you against consulting an attorney or obtaining legal advice in relation to your claim.


To access a copy of these laws and regulations, visit the California Department of Insurance website using this link: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/0300-insurers/0200-bulletins/bulletin-notices-commiss-opinion/upload/2007NewLawsNoticeCAWildfires-2.pdf



With the right insurance broker at your side, the problems you may face in filing a claim will be minimized largely; the broker will ensure that all matters are resolved quickly and fairly to your satisfaction.

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