"The situation is pretty much concluded at this point. We're seeing almost no activity," said Terry Hunt, managing director of Global Technical Services, the division at Crawford & Co. dedicated to higher-value and complex claims. Hunt spoke by telephone from his Orange County office on Nov. 19.
Hunt estimated that his operation saw about 50 claims total out of the fires. Most of those were related to the civil authority clause for business interruption coverage.
Many commercial property policies contain so-called civil authority clauses that trigger business-interruption cover when a government entity calls for a mandatory evacuation of an area.
In California, these clauses in many cases have a 24-hour "deductible," meaning an area must be evacuated for more than 24 hours before the trigger goes into effect. Hunt added that some policies have a 48-hour requirement, while others have a monetary deductible.
Generally speaking, according to Hunt, these types of civil authority claims are not too tricky to resolve. Adjusters can contact the appropriate government to get the exact date and time that an evacuation was started and ended.
"What we saw was immediately recognized and dealt with," he said.
Hunt also said that some wind-damage claims came out of the Santa Anas' bluster--as many as a couple hundred, mostly involving minor damage.
Southern California property owners, he said, are accustomed to the strong wind storms that hit the region in the fall and the spring.
"It sounds crazy, but 68 mph winds in Southern California are not that out of the ordinary," he said.
MATTHEW BRODSKY is Web editor/senior editor of Risk & Insurance®.
December 1, 2007
Copyright 2007© LRP Publications