INSURERS CAN’T DENY COVERAGE IN BROAD GEOGRAPHIC AREAS DUE TO WILDFIRES

csimt 2019, Insurance, Press Release

CSI HAS RECEIVED PHONE CALLS ABOUT PROBLEMS IN THE HELENA AREA

HELENA, Mont. — Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale reminded insurance companies today that they can’t refuse to write policies to customers in broad geographic areas just because there’s a wildfire in the same zip code or county. Rosendale encourages Montanans to contact his office if they’re having problems with a company denying them an insurance policy even though their property isn’t near an active fire.

The State Auditor’s office has recently received several phone calls and heard from local officials in Lewis and Clark County that some insurance companies are denying coverage for homes, cars, and boats due to the North Hills wildfire, even though the properties weren’t located anywhere near that fire.

“Insurance companies can’t use a wildfire on the other side of the valley or the county as an excuse to not sell someone an insurance policy during the summer,” Rosendale said. “Insurers don’t have to write coverage for a property that’s at an imminent risk of being damaged or destroyed, so folks can’t wait until there’s a fire on the hill above their house to get insurance. But companies can’t refuse to issue policies in broad geographic areas that aren’t actually threatened by a wildfire.”

Rosendale re-issued an Advisory Memorandum to insurance companies in 2017 to address this problem after concerns were raised in the Missoula area that summer. Previous insurance commissioners relied on a similar advisory memo originally issued in 2000.

“This policy has been in place for almost two decades, so insurance companies should know the rules. We will continue to enforce these consumer protections and not allow companies to leave property owners stranded without insurance coverage,” Rosendale said. “If you’re having problems getting an insurance policy because of a wildfire that isn’t actually a threat to your property, give my office a call.” 

The Auditor’s office emailed over 8,000 people in the insurance industry earlier today reminding them that the 2017 Advisory Memo remains in effect.

 

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