The loss was related to one of the wildfires in Calif. and was declared a Federal disaster. Our recovery was frustrated by challenges with our insurance claim however, due to the mass destruction there was also a demand surge for qualified contractors which added to our delayed recovery.
Five months after the fire and subsequent claim the policy was due to renew. The insurer sent an "offer to Renew",however, increased coverage for the structure by 30K and raised the premium by $120. Because I was already overwhelmed with the crisis at hand, I simply paid the full premium without noticing the changes. I did not put this together in my head until this past year.
Within the same week of receiving the offer to renew, the insurer sent a Notice of Cancellation for that same policy. Because mail was not delivered to the burned area, I did not receive this notice for some time, and even more time passed before it was opened. My insurer and agent both knew the home was uninhabitable and that I was struggling with our claim, yet never contacted me before making any of these changes.
Three months after sending the payment I discovered the premium I paid for the renewal of the residential policy was actually disbursed among my auto policies leaving me with a credit balance.
I did not need more coverage for the structure, the house was already destroyed. However, because this was a partial loss many of our personal items remained inside susceptible to theft and/or vandalism. I did not want a credit, I wanted the coverage I original purchased and that my insurance company agreed to provide.
I later received a replacement policy, however, the insurer reduced personal property/contentcoverage from $150,000 to $10,000 and altogether eliminated coverage for loss of use. Of course I did not accept their offer and never paid the premium. For obvious reasons I was unable to find an alternate insurer willing to provide coverage comparable to that before the fire on a home with a pending claim. Eventually the mortgagee placed a lenders policy protecting only their interest with an annual premium of $2000.
Some time later I discovered the payment I made, which I thought would renew my policy, was actually "blocked in underwriting", or at least that is what the agents internal billing record reflects.
To throw salt into the wound, the insurer never cancelled the replacement policy as I requested and in due time it cancelled for non-payment. Even though I did not accept the policy or pay the premium, they sent the "earned premium" to a collection agency, thus ruining my good credit reputation.
CA Ins.Code §675.1(c)states in part that an insurer must renew a policy at least once if a total loss to the primary residence was caused by a disaster. Of course an "offer" without renewal is not offer at all. Question: 1) Does CA Ins. Code §675.1 (a),(b),(c) apply to my circumstances even though the house did not burn to the ground? ( Please Define "total loss" as applied in statute) 2) In your opinion, why would an insurance company offer to renew a policy when its now obvious they never intended to accept the premium to renew? I would not think a simple offer to renew without actually renewing the policy would fall within the meaning of the statute, but what do I know.. Any information you may be able to provide would contribute to my understanding of the bigger picture.
Hopeless in San Diego