Late last month, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, joined by Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, announced a series of new homeowner regulations aimed at enhancing the standards and training for estimating the replacement value on homeowners insurance in the event of a disaster. These new regulations also represent a concerted effort to significantly curb the common problem of underinsurance that many homeowners face.

The new regulations include provisions for laying out requirements applicable to replacement value and replacement cost estimates to create a more consistent, comprehensive and accurate replacement cost calculation; setting forth training standards for agents and brokers who sell homeowners insurance; creating standards for real estate appraisers who estimate replacement cost for insurance purposes; requiring the application of certain standards when estimating replacement and construction costs; and establishing record keeping requirements.

The regulation addresses how insurance companies communicate with their customers when they are making a sale, ensuring they give them complete and accurate information and not mislead them. According to Commissioner Jones and complaints filed with the Department, when policies are sold to customers there has been confusion about what a “replacement cost” estimate actually covers. This regulation clears up that confusion. Insurance companies are not required to provide an estimate, but if they do, it must be complete and include certain components.