Insurance

Commissioner in Washington Wants Insurance Companies to Adjust the Wildfire Victims’ Claims Procedure

Commissioner in Washington Wants Insurance Companies to Adjust the Wildfire Victims’ Claims Procedure

In a letter to insurers on Wednesday, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler urged companies to think about easing the standards for submitting personal property claims for those affected by the wildfires that devastated Spokane County last summer.

In order to resolve a claim, insurance companies usually ask policyholders to provide an exhaustive, detailed inventory of all personal belongings lost in the triggering occurrence. Nevertheless, Kreidler requested in his letter that insurers relax these rules and include the mention of “six sweaters” as an example, rather than requiring a specific size and manufacturer for every shirt.

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In contrast to a typical home fire, a wildfire frequently destroys the whole house along with everything within. As a result, people are forced to depend on their memories to make lists since they are unable to sift through the rubble to uncover proof of lost personal goods,” Kreidler noted. “These wildfire victims lost everything in their homes; there could be over 5,000 line items on an itemized list.”

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Additionally, Kreidler urged insurance companies to think about implementing in Washington the same process that neighboring states that have suffered catastrophic wildfire losses have used: giving policyholders a portion of their overall liability limits without requesting an itemized report of damages.

Kreidler recommended that policyholders obtain at least 70% of the personal property coverage for their home—a number that was applied in Oregon following the proclamation of a state of emergency.

In August 2023, more than 350 houses in the Spokane region were destroyed by flames around Oregon Road and Gray. In February, FEMA Individual Assistance Funds for victims was made available when President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster designation for the region.

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