California Dept. of Insurance issues formal notice about wildfire claims

In the aftermath of the Northern California wildfires, on Nov. 20, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones directed the California Department of Insurance to issue a formal notice to insurers, licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.

The guidance continues to be important as Southern Californians deal with wildfires in the Los Angeles area.

How A Dry Spell Allowed Winds to Lash California With Flames

The hot, dry Santa Ana winds whipping up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.

The combination of savage Santa Anas and tinder-dry plants have ignited large wildfires in the region this week, upending lives at a time when many people were preparing for the winter holidays, officials said.

It served as a reminder that parts of California increasingly face a year-round threat of flames.

“There is no fire season anymore,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLain, adding that this was particularly true in Southern California.

Los Angeles 405 Freeway closes in rush hour as wildfires spread

(Bloomberg) -- A major commuter artery in Los Angeles closed Wednesday morning and some of the city’s wealthiest estates, including Rupert Murdoch’s Moraga vineyard, were ordered evacuated as Southern California firefighters battled several wind-fanned wildfires.

Stretches of Interstate 405 were shut and neighborhoods near the freeway and Mulholland Drive, including parts of Bel-Air, were being evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Residents were warned by text messages.

Los Angeles Wildfires Close Roads, Threaten Crops, Force Evacuations

Wildfires raging across Southern California have shut a major commuter artery in Los Angeles, suspended filming, wiped out more than $3 billion of market value for regional utility Edison International and are threatening some of the state’s lucrative crops.

Stretches of Interstate 405, which feeds major Los Angeles job centers, were shut as flames engulfed nearby mountainsides. Neighborhoods near the freeway and the famed Mulholland Drive, including parts of upscale Bel-Air, were evacuated. Snap Inc. shut operations, and a major conference on microcap stocks that was scheduled to be held in Los Angeles through Thursday was canceled. Ventura County, home to a third of California’s avocado acreage, has seen tens of thousands of acres consumed, and citrus growers have been affected.

Southern California faces extreme fire risk from dry winds

(Bloomberg) -- Dry and warm gusts blowing in from the desert have elevated the wildfire risk in Southern California to critical, several weeks after deadly flames tore through wine country to the north.

The strongest Santa Ana winds of the season threaten more than 14,000 square miles (36,260 square kilometers) covering a population in excess of 19.9 million, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. That includes Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino. They’re expected to last through Thursday.

California Brothers Nabbed in Staged Auto Accident Ring Involving 20 Others

A two-year investigation has netted 22 suspects in an auto fraud ring in California that cost insurers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Brothers Angel Topete, 36, and Joshua Topete, 34, both of San Martin, Calif., were arrested on numerous felony charges for allegedly running an organized auto insurance fraud scam involving more than 20 individuals and 18 staged collisions netting conspirators $210,000 in fraudulent auto insurance claims.

California Division of Workers’ Comp Suspends 21 Medical Providers for Fraud

The California Division of Workers’ Compensation has suspended 21 more medical providers from participating in the state’s workers’ compensation system, bringing the total number of providers suspended this year to 115. The providers were suspended for fraud or other criminal actions.

The suspensions were made possible by the passage last year of Assembly Bill 1244, which requires the DWC administrative director to suspend any medical provider convicted of a crime involving fraud or abuse of the Medi-Cal or Medicare programs or the workers’ comp system, a patient, or related types of misconduct.

Year in Risk 2017

Whether it was natural disasters, cyberattacks, corporate crises, political uncertainty or terrorist activity, risk events made high-profile and often sobering headlines in 2017. Although by no means exhaustive, the following review of the year in risk can help risk professionals learn from the past so that they can better prepare for future threats.

On the Ground: Risk Management in a Historic Hurricane Season

A devastating hurricane season left catastrophic damage across the Atlantic basin, with the most severe storms in more than a decade striking the Caribbean and southern United States in close succession. While the year is not yet over, 2017 is already one of the most expensive in history for natural disasters. Risk Management spoke with individuals from across the risk and insurance community who were involved in the season’s three major Atlantic hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—to discuss their first-hand experience weathering the storms, managing disaster response and recovering in their wake.