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Garamendi Sets More Hearings for State Wildfire Victims

November 19, 2003|Kenneth Reich | Times Staff Writer

State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi expressed concern Tuesday that some people who lost their homes in the Southern California wildfires might have inadequate insurance to meet their losses.

Garamendi's comments came after he oversaw a series of hearings last week in Claremont, Moorpark, San Diego and San Bernardino in which residents who lost homes expressed their concerns about the rebuilding process.

The commissioner has scheduled two additional hearings, both in mountain areas: noon Thursday at the Lake Arrowhead Lodge in the mountain resort, and 6:30 p.m. Monday at Julian High School in Julian.

"These mountain communities may have encountered other problems we should explore," Garamendi said.

As in last week's hearings, various federal and state agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Emergency Services, will be invited to send representatives.

Garamendi said that if a pattern emerges of many underinsured fire victims, insurance companies should consider voluntarily upgrading some policies.

Companies have not rejected the idea of upgrades outright, but they said it would happen only in extraordinary circumstances.

The carriers also warned that other customers might have to pay more to cover the costs of making fire victims whole.

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