Hello from the Idyllwild Association of Realtors®! Before we get too far into 2019, IAOR would like to inform the public about several new California laws affecting homeowner’s insurance and new construction. Let’s dig in:
Building permits: expiration period extended
A building permit remains valid despite changes in the building code as long as work is commenced within 12 months after issuance.
This new law, instead, provides that a permit would remain valid for purposes of the California Building Standards Law if the work on the site authorized by that permit is commenced within 12 months after its issuance, unless the permittee has abandoned the work authorized by the permit.
The law also authorizes a permittee to request and the building official to grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time for periods of not more than 180 days per extension. It requires that the permittee request the extension in writing and demonstrate justifiable cause for the extension. (Assembly Bill 2913 is codified as Health and Safety Code §§ 18938.5 and 18938.6. Effective Jan. 1, 2019.)
Insurance: fires and other natural disasters
With wildfires and other disasters devastating areas across the state, insurers have employed various tactics to avoid paying out on claims and to minimize their losses in the future. This set of eight new laws attempts to ensure that a homeowner who has purchased insurance will realize the benefits of their policy and will not be improperly or unfairly denied coverage presently or in the future.
Senate Bill 824 prohibits an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew a homeowner’s insurance policy for one year from the date of a declaration of emergency and requires insurers to report specified fire risk information to the Department of Insurance.
Senate Bill 894 provides assistance to survivors of major disasters or catastrophic events, including requiring insurers to renew a residential insurance policy for at least two renewal periods (24 months), requiring insurers to grant another 12 months of added living expenses, and allowing combined payments for losses to a primary dwelling and other structures so homeowners can apply those losses as they see fit, such as rebuilding the main home.
Senate Bill 917 requires insurers to cover a loss resulting from a combination of disasters (landslide, mudslide, mudflow or debris flow) if an insured disaster is the proximate cause of the loss or damage, and would otherwise be covered.
Assembly Bill 1772 extends from 24 months to 36 months the period of time within which an insurance policyholder is entitled to collect full replacement benefits under a replacement cost fire insurance policy.
Assembly Bill 1800 prohibits, in the event of a total loss, a residential property insurance policy from limiting or denying payment based on the fact that the policyholder has chosen to rebuild or purchase a home at a new location.
Assembly Bill 2594 extends the existing statute of limitations for a homeowner to sue an insurer from 12 to 24 months if the loss is related to a state of emergency.
Senate Bill 30 requires the insurance commissioner to convene a working group to assess new and innovative investments in natural infrastructure and insurance products in light of California’s worsening fire vulnerability due to climate change.
Assembly Bill 1875 connects consumers who need residential property insurance with agents and brokers to help ensure they obtain plans and coverage that suit their specific needs.
(California Association of Realtors® Legal Department: Member Legal Services. “2019 New Laws Affecting Realtors®” Oct. 15, 2018.])
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you next month on “Realtor Talk.”