Northridge quake victims have until Dec. 31 to reopen claims

The Associated Press
Friday December 28, 2001

LOS ANGELES – Insurance policy holders who were victims of the 1994 Northridge earthquake have until Dec. 31 to reopen claims. 

Under state law, policy holders who did not receive adequate compensation for property damage were given another chance to have their claims reviewed despite the one-year statute of limitation on their quake policies. 

“Many property owners found earthquake-related damage after the original claims period had expired. SB 1899 was signed into law to assist those that were denied benefits under their policy,” attorney Brian Kabateck, who helped draft the bill that took effect in January 2001, said Thursday. 

The bill grew out of a probe of settlements negotiated by former insurance commissioner Chuck Quackenbush with insurance companies. Quackenbush resigned in July 2000 and is still under investigation by the state. 

Under the bill, policy holders who contacted their insurance company before Jan. 1, 2000, about possible damage can still re-open a claim. Those who received an attorney-aided settlement from the insurance companies or court settlement cannot refile. 

“Policy holders must act now before it’s too late,” Kabateck said. 

The Jan. 27, 1994, Northridge quake measured magnitude-6.7. The epicenter was one mile south of Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. It caused more than 70 deaths and about $15.3 billion in insured losses. About 114,000 homes and buildings were damaged.