Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry Introduces Key Legislation as Component of Insurance Commissioner Jones’ Wildfire Relief Package
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), legislative colleagues and Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, held a press conference today announcing a package of 13 bills that will be introduced this legislative session to address home insurance issues facing recent wildfire victims. One key measure in this package is AB 1772, a bill introduced last week by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg).
AB 1772 will give wildfire victims an additional year to rebuild their homes and businesses after a catastrophic wildfire and collect the full amount of insurance dollars to which they are entitled. Extending the time a policy holder has to recoup their losses after a devastating fire will prevent battles with insurance companies, and bring families greater peace of mind during difficult times.
In October 2017, California experienced the most devastating wildfire in state history. 44 Californian lives were claimed. More than 14,700 homes and 728 businesses were damaged or destroyed totaling over 9 billion dollars worth of insurable damage. This disaster struck while Lake and Calaveras Counties were still in process of rebuilding from the Valley and Butte Fires of 2015, which destroyed more than 3,000 structures and 1,700 homes.
“Four of my counties – Lake, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma – were on fire in October. For many, it wasn’t the first time,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry. “It breaks my heart to think about the magnitude of loss families across California are experiencing due to fires. It will take them years to pick up the pieces. AB 1772 will simply give Californians more time to access coverage they’ve already paid for.”
AB 1772 extends the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from 2 to 3 years and receive the full replacement costs they are entitled to after a declared emergency.
Many constituents who had homes and businesses burn down during the Valley and Butte fires of 2015 are still not done rebuilding due to the magnitude of loss those communities experienced. Such large regional rebuild efforts put strain on resources and contractors available to finish extensive amounts of work. Rebuild timelines for the North Bay and Southern California fires of 2017 are expected to be just as, if not more, time consuming.
AB 1772 has already gained the support of Legislators from regions North and South impacted by the wildfires of 2017. Coauthors include Assemblymembers Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), and Marc Levine (D-Marin), and Senators Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), and Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).
“The recent California wildfires devastated so many people in our communities,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, a joint author of AB 1772. “They have lost homes and businesses that they worked years to build and we can’t forget the emotional trauma they are also experiencing. This bill, which is limited to declared emergencies, will provide insureds an additional year to rebuild. When you think about all that is involved in rebuilding close to 10,000 structures in Northern California alone – all within a few hundred miles of each other – this bill will give people the time to complete the planning and permitting process, find the best contractor for their home or business and take the pressure off our local governments to ensure that they can meet the extraordinary needs of their residents.”
“This bill takes an important step to help victims and communities rebuild and recover after future disasters,” said Senator Dodd.
“24 months just isn’t enough time for residents to work with their insurance companies on full reimbursement of their lost home,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “The size and scope of wildland fire events have grown significantly over the last decade in California. This new reality means we have to rethink what were once reliable programs and develop new solutions. I’m grateful to join with Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry on this important initiative that will help all Californians.”
“The recovery process after a fire can be overwhelming—this extension will relieve one more worry for a family who has lost their home or a business owner trying to rebuild,” said Assemblymember Limón (D-Santa Barbara), “I am proud to join Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry as a principal coauthor of this important legislation to extend the coverage period. As our communities recover from the devastating fires of last year, we will continue to bring down barriers to returning to a sense of normalcy.”
AB 1772 is expected to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Insurance in early Spring.