California to Establish Home And Community Hardening Standards for Insurance

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Monday announced a new partnership between the California Department of Insurance and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Administration to establish statewide standards for home and community hardening aimed at reducing wildfire risk, protecting lives and property and making insurance available and affordable to residents and businesses.

California Alerts Residents in Burn Areas About Flood And Mudslide Coverage

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is alerting residents to review their current insurance policies in the midst of a forecast of winter weather bringing the possibility of floods, mudslides, debris flows, and other disasters to recent wildfire burn areas throughout the state.

Lara issued a formal notice to insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damage from any future mudslide or similar disaster that is caused by recent wildfires that weakened hillsides.

California Construction Worker Charged with Workers’ Comp Fraud

Jose Zepeda, 45, of Fresno, Calif., self-surrendered this week on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and attempted perjury after filing a workers’ compensation insurance claim and allegedly misleading the insurance carrier regarding his employment status in order to collect disability benefits he was not entitled to receive.

According to an investigation by the California Department of Insurance, Zepeda was injured in August 2017 while employed by a local construction company. Zepeda began collecting disability benefits because his employer could not accommodate his work restrictions. The insurance company handling Zepeda’s workers’ comp claim reportedly instructed him to notify them if he found new employment because that would affect the benefits he was receiving.

California COVID-19 Benefits Fraud, Cyber Attack Could Reach $9.8B

California may have paid out nearly $10 billion in phony coronavirus unemployment claims – more than double the previous estimate – with some of that money going to organized crime in Russia, China and other countries, according to a security firm hired to investigate the fraud.

At least 10% of claims submitted to the state Employment Development Department before controls were installed in October may have been fraudulent, Blake Hall, founder and CEO of ID.me told the Los Angeles Times.

The Times said that would work out to $9.8 billion of the benefits paid from March through September.

New Wave of Virus Claims Hit California Workers’ Comp

A California Workers’ Compensation Institute analysis of claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation as of Jan. 11 shows that the number of COVID-19 claims in the California workers’ compensation system more than tripled between October and November, then jumped another 64.2% to a record 23,483 claims in December.

A new CWCIU projection shows that the December total could climb to 37,573 cases once claims that are yet to be filed or still under investigation are added to the tally.

Vaccinations: Sonoma County Residents Wondering how it will Happen

(TNS) - Jan. 10—Elizabeth Apana is 72 years old. She moved to Santa Rosa in 2019 because her cardiologist told her she needed surgery to stabilize the rhythm of her heart, and it would be too risky to have the procedure done in Hawaii, where she lived at the time. She also has congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. She is eager to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, for obvious reasons.

"Mentally, it's going to make me feel a whole lot better, because I know I won't have to worry about catching COVID, and I won't have to worry about giving it to other people," Apana said. "I feel it will be a new chance at life."

California Governor Planning $4 B for Economic Recovery

After spending most of 2020 telling small businesses to close and limit their customers, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed $4 billion worth of state spending he says will help them survive in 2021.

Newsom was the first U.S. governor to impose a statewide stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus pandemic in March, earning praise at the time for decisive action to contain the spread. But a recent surge of cases has caused those restrictions to linger into 2021, shuttering bars, restaurants, barber shops, gyms and movie theaters for months at a time while imposing strict limits on capacity inside retail stores during the year’s busiest shopping season.

Another Coronavirus Surge Record in Orange County, Calif.

(TNS) - Dec. 20—Orange County logged another single-day record on Sunday, Dec. 20, for new reported cases of the coronavirus as a winter surge spreads through its communities and packs local hospitals.

The additional 4,606 cases reported Sunday by the OC Health Care Agency in its daily update put the cumulative total since tracking began at 124,428 people testing positive for the virus.

Some 1,682 people needed hospitalization as of Sunday, 375 of them in intensive care units.

Analysts Say Cat Models Would Encourage Wildfire Mitigation Measures

Predictive modelers told California regulators on Thursday that the state’s antiquated rules for calculating wildfire risk when setting property insurance rates discourage innovative mitigation measures that could ultimately reduce losses.

Nancy P. Watkins, a principal and consulting actuary for Milliman, said during a webcast on “home hardening” hosted by the state Department of Insurance that California is one of only three states that doesn’t allow insurers to use catastrophe modeling to determine wildfire risk. Rates must be based on historical losses.

Watkins said that is a “very simple” method of ratemaking. “It’s kind of like expecting the Rocky Mountains to be flat because we just drove through Kansas and Missouri,” she said.

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