Assemblymember Arambula's Town Hall on Small Business & Wildfire Preparedness Resources

hello and welcome to today’s town hall on small businesses and fire prevention with insurance commissioner ricardo lara and senator anna caballero i’m assembly member dr joaquin arambilla and have the honor and privilege of representing the 31st assembly district here in the central san joaquin valley where i represent 14 small cities fresno sanger reedley orange cove parleer fowler selma kingsburg kerman mendota fireball san joaquin kolinga huron and many other unincorporated communities and all of us have questions that we are hoping to get answered today on our town hall i’m looking forward to an opportunity to have a conversation today and now have the honor of introducing our insurance commissioner for the great state of california ricardo lara how are you also remember great thank you for having me uh thank you senator caballero as well uh you know you naming those cities it reminds me of those the holidays that i spent in three brocks and in mendota uh with my family great times i missed the central valley so much uh prior to my election in 2018 as insurance commissioner i was fortunate to serve alongside both of you in the legislature uh the residents of uh the valley are fortunate to have two pragmatic problem-solving leaders representing them in sacramento uh and you know we need to do more work than ever to continue to address these issues that keep confronting our constituents since the coba 19 pandemic i started uh we’ve had more than 30 virtual town halls like this and we’ve reached over 7 000 businesses and consumers uh on a personal note uh again as you know i always like to shout out my central valley i was born and raised in l.a but i have deep ties my grandparents live in fresno and i’m very you know very sorry not to be there in person but i’m glad to be with you today thank you i look forward to the conversation next i’d like uh senator caballero to introduce herself welcome senator thank you very much assembly member at amula it’s a pleasure to be here and good afternoon to everyone i’m very excited to have commissioner lada here with us to answer some really important questions um i represent the 12th senate district and i have 27 commun uh cities incorporated cities so i won’t name them um i’m alway i always think it’s really brave to start naming because you may forget something and and it’s a it’s a shame but i also represent uh the central valley we have a uh part of our districts overlap each other and um i’m really glad to be able to join today’s virtual town hall to discuss fire preparedness and resources available to small businesses so a big thank you to the assembly member for inviting me to join the conversation where we know our commissioner has committed to broadening the protections of insurance non-renewal laws we may give the senator a second since it appears that we’re having some technical difficulties and give her an opportunity to come back and reintroduce herself but i may ask insurance commissioner lada to give us an update on the resources that california is providing at this moment thank you uh let me oh i am i’m gonna i’ll need thank you uh you know your elected leaders at the federal state and local levels are you know we all have a lot of work to do to assist our business and their workers as they continue to try to cope with this pandemic and the future of our economic economy and our state first i want to talk about premium relief and the work that we have done uh you know i have taken a number of steps to help businesses and consumers uh including ordering insurance companies to return a portion of premiums to businesses and drivers affected by the covet 19 pandemic the directive applies to the following lines of insurance you might have you know the majority of the news has been centered around private passenger automobile insurance but for our businesses that also includes commercial automobile workers compensation uh commercial multi-payroll commercial uh liability medical malpractice as our doctor at ambula would appreciate uh for those uh individuals that have their own

practice and have seen a decline in patients because of the shelter at home orders and and quite frankly any other line where the risk has become substantially overstated as a result of the pandemic i’m proud to say that as a direct result of my directive california automobile insurance companies have provided 1.2 billion dollars in savings to drivers and the 1.2 billion dollars can be siphoned off in two ways uh it’s more than one billion in premium relief for more than 18 million california drivers for the first three months uh that you know beginning it includes the start of this pandemic and an additional 180 million in savings on future rate increases that insurance companies have to reduce in response to my orders uh my action goes farther i’m proud to say than any other state by including businesses where the risk of loss has fallen as a result of the pandemic if you want to know what relief your insurance company is providing you can go to go to our website and see the report that they submitted at insurance.ca.gov my department is currently reviewing all the reports we receive from insurance companies about how much premium they are returning to commercial policies to verify these amounts and make sure that the amounts are sufficient as a business owner you should not have to do absolutely anything to receive the refund or the credit uh an insurance companies must provide this relief as soon as possible uh i expect these savings for consumers you know will continue to grow a few weeks ago i extended my order for premium relief to include the month of june and beyond as long as the risk of accident uh and loss remains low due to the pandemic so we encourage business businesses to contact our department at 1-800-927-4 or you can also visit us at insurance.ca.gov if you have any questions you can give us a call shoot us an email we’ll respond to you immediately so that we can help you understand what your insurance coverage is or what your needs are in addition to getting premium money back to businesses and our consumers there are a few major issues we have we are monitoring including business interruption insurance uh my department has received a number of complaints regarding claims for business interruption insurance related to the covet 19 closures many businesses have looked to their insurance policies for possible coverage and as you know each policy is a legal contract between the business owner and the insurance company and since march we have seen dozens of lawsuits around the country including here in california which concern the interpretation of these policies and whether these policies cover the losses due to the pandemic i can tell you that we are monitoring these cases as they move through the courts and meanwhile you know i have we have taken several significant steps to address business interruption for example we have been learning that some insurance companies are denying business and eruption claims without a thorough investigation or even discouraging businesses and business owners from even filing a claim uh that is simply unacceptable so in response to these complaints i am requiring insurance companies to comply with their contract and california law by fairly investigating every single business interruption claim caused by covet 19 just as they would any other disaster by the way whether it’s a fire a flood or an earthquake my department will be watching to make sure they do so and ensure that everyone’s getting a fair claim so in addition to cover 19 you know we are now in wildfire season uh and we continue to face ongoing threats from wildfires over the past year uh before the pandemic i had joined 22 meetings on wildfire insurance across the state attended by more than 2000 people the reality is that wildfires is a statewide problem and the fires that we have seen this year are a reminder that wildfire season is already here whether we’re ready for it or not cal fire and other agencies have responded to thousands of incidents already this year including the mineral fire uh there in in your your district uh early this month we held a town hall with cal fire and the governor’s office of emergency services and consumer group uh united policyholders to talk about preparation and and you know you can find that link on our website

at insurance.ca.gov we have a lot of great links to that discussion that can help give you and help you prepare as we continue to tackle wildfire season uh if we have another wildfire season that damages and destroys homes and businesses my department will do what we always do we’ll always be there we’ll work with our elected officials to make sure that we help you recover as quickly as possible from the 2017 to 2018 wildfires uh and the 2018 um fire related montecito mudslide the dedicated staff of the department was able to recover more than 240 million dollars for wildfire claimants um and that is that is key so you know that we have folks that are critically and always working to try to address the claims that you all have um you know when i was before i was in the insurance commission uh i proudly uh authored senate bill 824 when i was in the senate which provides protections against non-renewals to everyone living in or near a perimeter of a declared wildfire emergency last year we put that law into effect for the first time and i’m proud to say that more than one million homes in 180 zip codes are now protected until december 2020 from non-renewal uh you can find the whole list of those zip codes on our website again at insurance.ca.gov if you have any other if we were to have any other state declare disasters this year and beyond the new law will protect those from non-renewals for a year as well and this really gives you time to be able to plan how you’re going to rebuild what options you have as a family and not have to worry that you’re going to lose your insurance coverage in the process again the department is committed to protecting our consumers while working with the legislature to promote home hardening and other strategies to make insurance available and affordable for all quickly i also just want to mention i want to urge all our businesses and our consumers to be on the lookout for fraud uh and other insurance scams unfortunately during these times it is when we see businesses being targeted for fraud uh if you see any red flags or suspicious activity please report it to the department of insurance many folks don’t know but we have over 300 sworn investigators and enforcement personnel in nine regional offices they’re including in the heart of fresno we have one of our enforcement officers there uh i would also tell businesses to be on alert for those offering bogus compensation policies please verify the legitimacy of the selling agent and the policy being offered you can verify the agent’s license on our website uh you can also contact the insurance company directly to verify the policy and again i know i keep repeating this phone number but i want you to have it if you please you call us if you to report any suspicious activity at our 1-800-927-4357 to telework to make sure that you know we are available to our consumers uh we know insurance is complicated and it’s even complicated for your insurance commissioner sometimes so there’s no shame we we know business owners primary concern is keeping the doors open keeping employees and customers safe uh we you can um we can call you and guide you through the process we have insurance experts ready to answer your questions in multiple languages uh whatever language you feel comfortable you will talk to an actual person not a recording uh and i look forward to answering your questions today thank you again for inviting me to be part of this uh great discussion commission

thank you for those words in spanish for my community next we will have don golick from the small business administration share some thoughts good afternoon thank you so much assembly member ambula senator caballero i’m so happy to be here with you today my name is john golick and i’m the director of the san joaquin valley and central coast regional sva office and i want to say again thank you so happy to be able to speak to our small businesses today the small business administration is the federal government agency that’s here to serve our country’s 31.7 million small businesses and i know that the last several months have been incredibly difficult for our community and for small business owners i want you to know that you’re not alone and the small business administration has helped for you through our office in fresno which serves the whole valley also through our partner agencies we’re here to support and assist you and no small business is left alone right now to try and figure out any of the different federal government programs that are available we’re here to help you either through my office and fresno through score or the small business development centers all of the assistance is free it’s offered in spanish and other languages and please let us know what we can do to help you can reach the fresno sba office by email fresno sba.gov you can give us a call we do 559-487-5791 assistance in spanish and you can also click on the local assistance link on the sba webpage if you’re outside of fresno and you’re looking for help in a community near you sba is helping covid19 affected small businesses in two primary ways we have two main programs which i’ll talk briefly about today the paycheck protection program or ppp and the economic injury disaster load or eidl povid19 is actually the first time in sba’s history that we’ve ever issued a disaster declaration due to a virus and as a result of that businesses are able to access capital for emergency purposes that includes also non-profit agencies farmers and others that are able to use both the ppp and the eidl program the economic injury disaster loan is a long-term low-interest loan with a 12 month deferment that’s really important for small businesses right now who may not be comfortable taking on more debt at a time when they’re perhaps struggling to make the payments they already have so for both the paycheck protection program and for the economic injury disaster loan program small businesses have the opportunity to access capital now have a period of time where businesses are going to reopen stabilize and start to recover and then after that deferment period payments would start to be due for the economic injury disaster loan payments are set at a low 3.75 interest rate for businesses 2.75 for nonprofits and a 30-year repayment period and that’s all done to make payments as low as possible there’s no fee to apply for these programs and there’s no obligation to accept the loan if one is offered also there’s no prepayment penalty we recognize that many small businesses right now are really really worried about paying their employees and so through both the economic injury disaster loan and the paycheck protection program our small businesses can get access to capital that they need to not only make payments to their employees and make payroll but also make rent cover utilities have working capital and other things that we know are really important for your business to be able to operate for the economic injury

disaster loan if you have applied and having difficulty getting information on the status of your loan please feel free to reach out to my office we can assist you with connecting with our office of disaster assistance and get you a status update on your loan we also provide a free webinar several times a month for businesses that may have applied for the economic injury disaster loan and perhaps have been turned down even though sba may have turned you down for a loan the first time you do have the ability to reapply and request reconsideration where sba could re-look at your loan and consider additional information that you can provide so we do these webinars several times a month there’s no cost for them you can reach out to our office fresno sba.gov to find out when those are and they include a question and answer period i know we’re going to have one of those today but if you need more detailed assistance or you’ve got more questions that’s an opportunity to connect with sba professionals and experts the paycheck protection program is the other way that small businesses are able to get assistance for their needs right now again under the paycheck protection program businesses would get funds that they could use now a period of time to stabilize and recover and then payments would start to be due i think it’s really important for small businesses to know that for both the economic injury disaster loan and the paycheck protection program it’s important that you apply as soon as possible the paycheck protection loan is going to be ending on august 8th we don’t want any businesses to miss out on that opportunity if you’ve previously applied under the previous rounds of epp or paycheck protection program you’ll want to reach out to your lender to get a status update on where your application is it’s really important again for businesses to know you’re not alone to figure any of this out so if you have questions about either of these programs please feel free to reach out to my office and let us help walk you through this again we’ve got assistance available in spanish and we’ve got other assistants available to small businesses through sba resource partners so i’ll pause there i know we’re going to take some questions later on this morning but again please know that sba is here to support and help our small businesses our office in fresno is committed to all of our businesses throughout the san joaquin valley and central coast we’re here with you for the long haul as our communities begin to reopen recover and stabilize and we’re here to support our small businesses don that was incredible uh informative i was hoping you could tell us the phone number just one more time quickly just so that everyone who’s listening is able to take that number down absolutely by phone 559 and again our email address fresno sba.gov thank you don next we have shane brown from the fresno fire department he is their public information officer thank you shane for joining us hello thanks for having me yeah um my name is shane brown i am currently the public information officer fresno fire department i’m also a firefighter specialist in the field which means i get to drive the fire trucks around real fast with the lights and sirens um yeah this has been an incredible year for fire so i want to hammer on how you can harden your home and prepare with fire season coming it’s already on us as uh the commissioner said i work for a c c fire department we typically run mostly structure fires in our city um we’re a metropolitan department we have 24 stations but the statistics that i’ve been looking at day in day out show that this year alone we’re up 60 in fire calls so that’s a collective number that gets from a piece of trash on the side of the road that’s on fire to a big giant apartment building they’re all considered a fire call we’re seeing a 60 increase in that structure fires are up about 30 percent and vegetation fires are up in the 60 over where they were last year compared to the same data year over year um right now i was just looking at my information cal fire shows 13 active wildfires throughout our state that’s going to start drawing down the resources from every city and every county uh requiring you know thousands of firefighters to fight these fires so for you as a as a citizen out there you know preparing for fire that’s the best thing you can do is to to realize that it is a possibility not to ignore it not to think hey it won’t happen to me and to take some uh preemptive steps to prepare your your home and your family on how to act and to react if you do have a wildfire in your area so some of the general standardized hardening the home tips that they give can be found on cal fire’s website as well as the u.s forest service there’s a lot of information about wildfire

and how to prepare your home but i just wrote down some basic generic stuff keep in mind 80 percent of the homes that are lost are because of an ember and what an ember is is basically a flying piece of material that’s hot enough to ignite a fire somewhere else everybody’s been in a rec campfire doing s’mores things like that you know roasting marshmallows those embers that pop up on large wildfires those can actually carry up to one mile so when the winds are blowing steadily it you know you may think hey the fire’s miles away from where we are it can be on you in a hurry like super fast so understanding weather patterns understanding the wind in your areas is really critical to anticipating whether or not that fire can impact you and where you live uh your roof is where typically most fires start and that’s because the embers land on top of the roof so understanding if your roof construction is made of wood shake shingle roofs things like that those are much more susceptible to ignition if they’re affected by an ember vents the vents that go into your attic to allow for airflow those need to be covered with a metal mesh of about a 16 inch thick grade aluminum as well as sometimes having baffles depending on how they’re constructed so we advise you to consult with somebody that’s a licensed contractor to understand and make sure that that portion of it’s done correctly windows that are older that are single pane those can be shattered by fire fairly quickly and that just provides what we as firefighters call a flow path so the heat can just get right into the structure now and it can super heat uh your furniture your curtains everything else and then now your whole house is going to be on fire so we recommend dual pane windows and also if you’re building a structure out in the vegetation what we call an urban interface so an area where maybe you’re building on the outskirts of town there’s still vegetation there try to limit the amount of windows that are facing or directly adjacent to vegetation walls decks fences all your exterior structure stuff and keep in mind combustible materials are going to burn faster so if you like the look of wood siding just understand that you’re putting yourself at risk so there are certain types of wood that takes longer to ignite and so i would do the research on that and for us as firefighters one of the issues we run into a lot is we can’t find your place because you don’t have an address clearly marked for us so make sure that your address is clearly mark for the firefighters the faster we can get in there the faster we can defend your home you know so you need to give us a chance to help you make sure that your gates are accessible by us um if you’ve got a chain around the lock we can get through a chain that’s no problem um but if you make it impossible for anybody to get through i mean we may end up damaging your gate and to get in there so keep that in mind water supplies around your structure are critical so if you can stretch a hose line even the garden hoses around those ambers that are falling if you’re able to extinguish them quickly you can prevent a small fire from becoming a big fire those are the the basic kind of generic tips for the average person out there clearing vegetation around your home all those things are super critical try to keep a 100 foot defensible space which means that nothing within a hundred feet that were to catch on fire would transmit enough radiant heat to start your structure on fire that’s kind of the key there um rain gutters are hugely problematic for collecting edge vegetation up inside the rain gutters and then those embers land in there and they take off so make sure that you have those cleared out and we always recommend that you know if you have people that aren’t able to do those things and say you know be a good neighbor so if you have elderly people that aren’t able to get on the roof safely maybe somebody with a disability you know off here to help out it’s a good way for some of the teenagers to make some money and go out and learn how to how to help out uh and within our cities it’s kind of it’s somewhat similar you can’t really pardon against uh a little small grass bar but it’s the same thing i mean people let debris pile up around their homes things like that um the dry weeds are a problem right now so again if you’re in a neighborhood and you notice that a neighbor’s got a lot of uh stuff keep in mind that if that catches on fire you’re your house could potentially be exposed to that so it behooves you to go over and participate in helping that neighbor clean up thank you shane for that information it was incredibly informative and important for our community to be aware of what we can do to help to harden our selves to prepare for what is to come now i’d like to remind the public who’s watching this that you can submit your questions via facebook and we will ask some of them here live and i will use a little bit of executive privilege to ask the first question but want to prepare senator caballero to ask the second one if that’s okay so i’d like to start by asking our insurance commissioner about whether liability insurance will it cover claims related with customers contracting covid19 while engaging with our businesses and what advice or recommendations can you provide us while we operate in this volatile

environment thank you that’s a great question you know i’m extremely worried uh for and really sympathetic to our businesses even when you reopen businesses are going to need to recover and i know liability due to covet exposure is a is a legitimate concern so the department is going to be watching closely to make sure that insurance companies are giving you as much flexibility as possible uh and that they are fully abiding by their contracts um excuse me i understand the burden being placed on our businesses as they attempt to reopen while still keeping their employees and their customers safe um it is not an understatement to say that these lives you know that there’s lives at stakes here and so we need to be very very mindful of that businesses should follow the governor’s resiliency roadmap as well as local guidelines for what processes the business must follow also um you know anything that will go a long way towards helping california lead us through this pandemic and reduce business liability exposure as businesses reopen i would encourage them to have a conversation with their agent or uh their insurance company to get the guidance regarding how safely they can return uh to business and also to make sure the business has the right type of coverage uh and you know with businesses reopening and then closing it gets really confusing so i would encourage your businesses to call your insurance company make sure to get the right guidelines and get their guidelines i should say and make sure that they are protected uh you know if all the insurance companies are giving businesses dif you know the guidelines depending on what type of business they have but again if you need help with any of this um you can give us a call at if they don’t have 1-800-927-4357 right coverage or the amount of coverage necessary to keep them afloat during these difficult times so it’s critical that they have that conversation with their agent and their insurance company thank you senator would you like to ask the next question thank you so much um i appreciate the opportunity to jump back on again my internet service as as is usual in rural california is comes in and out but um and actually um commissioner maybe you this is the the same answer but um i’ve had some concern from uh residential as well as business consumers that they’ve had a difficult time finding an insurance company willing to write insurance in their area and what should they do thank you you know this is a question that i hear many times in meetings uh with homeowners across the entire state uh the department has created a homeowners insurance finder tool uh that direct consumers to companies that may be writing policies in their area and that’s on our website uh the reality is that there are parts of california where you cannot find insurance uh insurance companies waiting to write you uh an insurance policy or even return your call for that matter and this is a major concern that i’ve been working on since last year the department of insurance continues to work with the legislature to promote home hardening and other strategies to make sure insurance is available and affordable it is an issue you know i know very well and and we continue to to try to find solutions that will hopefully allow us to hopefully you know pass legislation to mandate insurance companies to cover these areas particularly if these these areas uh as our you know are represented from the fresno fire department was saying you know if you’ve done everything to to harden your home an insurance company should write you a policy unfortunately we don’t have that authority and so we’re working to to get legislation to do that because not only is it becoming scarce but it’s becoming unaffordable for so many californians that are living in our rural communities in the foothills and throughout the entire state and again this is a california problem uh and so we all have to come together to really work on a solution so i really appreciate that question um i’ll jump in and take the next question if i can and then toss it back to senator caballero but i wanted to ask a question regarding workers comp and um why are owners who are covered now

under workers comp having to pay insurance when at times they can’t even draw a paycheck and also is there a new rule regarding workers comp for employees who are working from home yes absolutely you know the work business interruption and workers compensation are two of the biggest issues that we hear from uh our constituents in response to the first part of your question uh i included workers compensation insurance in my premium relief order for exactly that reason many businesses have seen their payroll fall and workers are being sent home or laid off unfortunately so you yeah so you should see your workers compensation insurance costs decrease as well uh you should contact your insurance company if you have not already provided your you haven’t been provided a reduction um and contact my department if you’re not satisfied with the answer you receive uh as to the second part of the question there have been changes to the workers compensation regulations under the previous workers compensation regulations uh employers that provided workers with the opportunity to transition from regular work duties to lighter let’s say more home-based clerical work uh we’re still paying the same rate based upon the higher job classification and so to me that was completely unfair so i issued emergency workers compensation regulations to make sure that the changes to really reflect the lower risk of worker injury in light of the pandemic the new regulations will mandate insurance companies to recompute premium charges for policyholders uh to really reflect the reduced risk of loss consistent with my earlier bulletins that i’ve listened out and will result in savings to many policyholders as well as our business community so you know we we’re trying to stay on top of it and understand that businesses have less folk less foot traffic less employees and that um their current premiums that they were paying before the pandemic really no longer reflect the reality they’re living in and they need to get a reimbursement for that thank you for your diligence and attention to the issue and the next question i hand it off to the senator thank you um so it that just brought up another question is is that true for the auto insurance as well i mean many of us are are driving well hardly driving at all so should we be looking for rebates for that as well yes you should already received it uh so i’m not gonna call them up right after we get off of this yes um like i mentioned earlier uh there’s six different lines of reimbursement that i’m asking and mandating the insurance companies return uh and yes that absolutely includes your individual private passenger auto policy uh you were on the line senator when i said that to date we’ve uh returned 1.2 billion dollars to cal up to over 18 million california drivers and so we continue to monitor it monitor this and we’re making sure that um you know californians get that money so today we’ve given 1.2 billion to 18 million uh drivers so we’re really happy and we’re also gonna uh start compiling the data on how much we say business owners on the other lines of insurance that we’re asking them to reimburse them i keep going in and out so i can’t tell when i’m on thank you for that answer i really appreciate it um uh also what what what do you see um the future being for homeowners insurance what lies in in in the future for homeowners insurance yeah that’s that’s a great question trying to uh do a little fortune telling here with god knows what else is going to happen in 2020 uh you know when we came in when i came into this office after two years of really the most destructive wildfires in california’s history fires that killed and as you know nearly 150 people and created 25 billion dollars in losses to put that in perspective you know the campfire that devastated the town of paradise was the costliest disaster in the world in 2018. uh insurance companies are going to seek to increase rates to re to make up those losses uh the inability to obtain insurance is causing a domino effect that is harming california’s communities twice first by wildfire then by insurance companies dropping residents and businesses you know i talked to many local fire chiefs who all agree that bringing down the risk

a wildfire should be our number one priority in order to reduce losses and bring bring rates back down uh this year i sponsored a bill in the legislature that would create incentives for people to do the work to protect their homes from wildfires by requiring insurance companies to offer a policy to a fire hardened home in a fire hardened community uh i’m also you know required premium discounts for those homes that have been hardened uh to make sure that we incentivize consumers to do the right thing uh the legislative the committee decided not to hear the bill so instead you know instead of hearing we’re we’re working on an industry-sponsored bill that i believe will hurt consumers uh nonetheless we will continue to pursue legislation in the future again like you said there’s so many people that are um really uh having a hard time and difficulty even finding insurance getting an insurance company to even return their calls uh and so you know i i believe that we need to actually do more for the consumer uh and and really figure out how we mandate coverage which currently the industry is is moving in the opposite direction so you know we’re we’re fighting the good fight on behalf of our consumers we think there needs to be more protections for them and guarantees that if they do all the right things to harden their home that they are guaranteed coverage and that we are giving them mitigation discounts so that we can continue to incentivize them one to protect their property and they’ve and giving them the resources if they cannot do it on their own that they give they’re given some resources to help them uh do the mitigation that they need a lot of our seniors a lot of our folks in our disabled community um a lot of our veterans you know they they can’t do these upgrades themselves and cannot canada cannot afford it so you know the legislature and government needs to step in so thank you for that question thank you i’m gonna ask one more question of our insurance commissioner before i start asking some of our facebook live questions but do want don golick to be prepared for the first facebook live question but commissioner lara i was hoping you could talk about the effect that covid19 would have on our health insurance thank you as a doctor i know you you worry about these things very closely and have been monitoring a lot of the work that uh myself and the governor have been doing you know the pandemic is causing a lot of uncertainty as you know wow we don’t know yet how uh and what things are gonna be happening in terms of the to the employers actuaries for health insurance are insurers are currently developing their assumptions regarding the impact to their 2021 rates uh and we will likely see price you know a price they’re trying to price their products that really reflect this new uncertainty that so many of us don’t know where we’re going to end up you know one thing is is that we don’t anticipate any expected windfalls in terms of reduced claims over the long term as a result of the pandemic yes there has been substantial decrease in necessary but elective procedures such as heart surgeries or cancer surgery during the pandemic in part in response for the need to focus hospital resources especially now as we’re seeing the rise in infections to give capacity for treatment to covert 19 patients as a consequence hospitals are experienced a substantial decrease in revenue many of these procedures may be deferred to a later time so claims of these procedures may come in a wave later and because of the job the job losses related to the pandemic we expect to see some shifts from employer-based coverage to cobra or other uh or on the individual market it’s also important for californians to remember that if their income is substantially reduced they may qualify for low-cost or no cost medical coverage my department has taken some actions to address health care costs for consumers and i’ll quickly uh go through those one of my first actions in response to the crisis was to eliminate cost sharing for covert 19 testing i also directed health insurance companies to increase telehealth access for consumers health insurance companies must comply to provide access to medically necessary care and california policy holders should be able to have access without physically visiting their provider you know i really think and i don’t know i’ll be curious to see what you think senator ambula i think telehealth is here to stay i and this is going to be a good thing for employers and workers alike and telehealth can keep our medical offices working while reducing risks to frontline workers and patients but of course as

you know senator caballero’s experiencing connectivity is gonna be critical and ensuring that our most remote communities have connectivity it’s the only way telehealth is going to um going to succeed but i think it is a wave of the future now i uh would agree with you and would love a follow-up conversation if we can about telehealth and behavioral health services that we can help to connect our kids to in the midst of a pandemic who are experiencing trauma from economic distress and social distancing i think that would be an incredibly important conversation and look forward to it don if i can i wanted to bring it back because august 8th is roughly two weeks away and really i’m hoping for some information one of the facebook questions we had was regarding whether non-profits could qualify for for ppp and whether or not you help them with application assistance yes so nonprofits do qualify for ppp the best research that i can direct potential ppp applicants too is a wonderful document that’s on the us department of treasury webpage www.treasury.gov and it’s called how to calculate loan amounts and it’s a fantastic resource for any kind of a ppp applicant whether that’s the sole proprietor with or without employees farm a non-profit a corporation it goes into very detailed step-by-step guidance on how to correctly fill out the ppp application the reason that’s important is the best way for a ppp borrower to ensure that they can maximize their forgiveness is to submit an application that correctly captures the funding that they need to operate their business so measure twice and cut ones submitting an application that’s got the most accurate information ensures that you get just what you need the time that you want to use it and so yes nonprofits can apply for ppp there is great guidance on the department of treasury website that will walk them through how to apply they can also reach out to our office either by email fresno.gov by phone 559-487-5791 if they’ve got specific questions and then additionally we are doing webinars several times a week on both ppp and the economic injury disaster loan so i would also say for anybody who’s thinking about applying for either of these programs while august 8th is currently the sunset of ppp what that means is that lenders need to get their loan applications from their borrowers submitted by august 8 but it’s important for applicants to understand that there’s a significant lag time that lenders need to be able to review and process both the application and the supporting document that applicants provide so don’t think that you should wait until august 8th to apply many lenders are going to start cutting that off a week five days before that deadline and so it’s critically important that potential ppp applicants apply as soon as possible and if you have any difficulty finding a lender you can reach out to our office and we can assist you with that if i can ask a follow-up don i just i’m trying to understand what types of costs could be forgiven for some of these non-profits potentially yes so the paycheck protection program again provides a potentially forgivable loan that is used for primary purposes the first is payroll and i think it’s important for both businesses and nonprofits to understand that your business or nonprofit does not have to be open in order for you to use a ppp loan to pay your employees because ppp does allow employees to be paid both on a work or a non-work status so that includes paying for example sick leave it includes potentially paying vacation time so the fact that your business may be one that’s closed does not preclude you from both applying for and using funds for ppp additionally ppp can be used for other kinds of key operating expenses for businesses and that includes your rent your utilities and interest on mortgage so some businesses may not have all of those expenses and they would just be applying for funds to cover their payroll

some businesses have all of those it’s also important to note that on the application businesses or non-profits who are applying for ppp have to certify that they will only use their ppp loan proceeds for those approved allowable expenses again payroll rent utilities and interest on mortgage so it is important for businesses to make sure that when they receive a loan they’re really carefully documenting the uses of those loan proceeds and keeping receipts and documentation showing how those funds were used because that will be critically important after your loan funds have been used and you’re preparing and submitting to your lender your application for loan forgiveness where you’ll need all of that information thank you don the next question is going to be for insert insurance commissioner but just wanted to remind those who are watching to submit your questions via facebook this next question came from facebook and it’s that shouldn’t we have relief from car registration costs absolutely you know uh we i know people are are really trying to get you know strapped for cash these times and so uh although i don’t oversee the vehicle registration portion but i can tell you that what we did is i submitted a bulletin asking insurance companies not to eliminate any good driving discounts or any other uh or not let it affect uh their insurance premium if people were driving with a suspended registration or a suspended license for that matter because we did we we don’t we didn’t want and we don’t want people at the dmv uh and putting their lives at risk so we did send a bulletin to the insurance company saying that if people were driving with the suspended registration or with the license that they could not uh essentially take away any discounts that would that they currently had uh or uh you know and let it affect their premium that they were currently paying because we want them to follow the governor’s stay at home orders so we were able to do that within my sphere as insurance commissioner senator i wanted to give you an opportunity to ask questions of shane brown or don golick if you wanted to well i just wanted to say that the information has been tremendously important um and what what i was impressed with i want to um recognize shane brown for um the um the the information about um how to how to be safe how to how to home harden your your your environment um it was really practical and part of the challenge is as a homeowner you know there’s a lot of things you got to know right and usually there’s things you got to get fixed before you start thinking about home hardening um and but it was really practical and i i i just got to thinking that you know maybe um setting something up where you’re you’re doing a facebook tutorial on walking around your home and looking at the home from the perspective of the fire department trying to defend your home and what does the great look like that you should be analyzing and saying is this appropriate what are the kinds of things around your home that that are likely to create problems right like right outside your window that that may be the kinds of vegetation that could easily burn luckily what i have is really wet so i i’m hoping it’s okay but i i just think that um that it’s really practical so i really appreciate that and wonder if you’ve got some ideas about how how we could get the message out because we can change the laws all we want right but the right right creation is we change the laws and then people don’t know and and they get themselves in trouble and i just have to say that that um i have great respect for the work that you do i lost i have three cousins who lost homes in paradise two of them were firefighters and so they were out there defending other people’s property and they lost their home so um i i i wanted i want us to do everything we can to protect protect homes and um and and all everything that went with that their whole life is inside the home right yeah no that’s a great point and uh i’m glad you brought that up something i wish i would have mentioned earlier was exactly what you said is looking at it through our eyes as firefighters so when you’re walking around your structure the things that you need to think about is that as much as we wish we could wave a magic wand and have you know 30 firefighters at every person’s house in a fire like that what often happens is you’re getting two

or three or maybe if you’re lucky four firefighters in one vehicle one apparatus to protect one structure because the resources across the state are stretched so thin i mean we just don’t have the amount of resources we need to keep up with what’s going on so when we when we approach structures we do what’s called triage so we look at what’s the most savable structures you know within a given area a neighborhood that we’re assigned to and so the giving us a better chance to defend your home means that you have a higher probability that we’re going to anchor at your property and because we know we can save your structure you know as much as we want to save every structure because that’s every firefighter’s ethos is that we want you know we don’t leave anyone behind there’s a reality where we look at a structure and realize no matter what we do with two or three or four people there’s nothing we can do to save this structure once the fire starts it’s over with so there are tons of resources already available out there like i said with the cal fire website there are several interactive features that people can access that explain those processes and what they do i highly encourage is make contact with your local firehouse everywhere in the state has different challenges and as you just mentioned different vegetation right so things burn differently if you live in canyons i was on the thomas fire that created the montecito floods and we went from ventura in the really nice homes on the hillside there we went code three up the uh 101 up to ojai and then we fought fire up in the canyons in ojai where the winds were blowing 30 40 50 miles an hour because the canyons funnel went through there so if you live in an area like that understanding those things it should also kind of steer you towards how you prepare your structure and then ultimately we ended up in santa barbara you know highly popular populated area with just you know fire everywhere and then that was the result was the montecito mudslide so um yeah there are a lot of resources available might the easiest and probably fastest way for most people is to to try to make contact with your local fire department find out where your fire engine is where are they coming from you know and uh because oftentimes also you can as you can imagine as a fresno fire engine we are down in ventura we you know we’re having to find these locations that’s why i was saying it’s so critical to clearly mark your property have the driveway clear for it the size of our trucks to be able to access your home because we need to get in there if you have a pool in those in those areas leave the water in there so we can pull the water out with our trucks and use the water you know things like that and there are a lot of aftermarket products too that you can you can purchase if you live in a really really high danger area but uh you know and yeah that’s a great idea with facebook i definitely might steal that from you and post some stuff on our social media so thanks for that yeah absolutely i wanted to take a moment and thank all of our panelists shane brown don golick and wanted to make sure to give time for insurance commissioner lara to close as well as senator caballero insurance commissioner thank you assembly member and senator caballero uh great seeing you on i’m glad you guys are doing well and are safe uh don and shane thank you for joining us and sharing vital information uh for our businesses and consumers uh the the resources you share are critical as senator caballero was saying and and to you our fellow californians if you are facing any insurance related issues uh i want you to remi i want to remind you that you know the california department of insurance is here to help uh and you can reach us again on our hotline at 1-800-927-4357 or on our website at insurance.ca.gov uh i know that insurance can be complicated i always say that and we are you know the state’s largest consumer protection agency uh and we are on your side you know this is our job is to protect your interests and to make sure you have the most latest information on how to protect yourself how to protect your property and how to protect your business again thank you uh and look forward to doing this again sometime and everyone please just take care of yourselves we’ll get through this together thank you senator thank you very much assembly member so i want to thank don golick and shane brown and commissioner lada this has been um terrific and really important information that we can get out to the consumer to our residents who desperately need information and have a you know it’s not always easy to get on the internet and start trying to look up stuff because unless you know how to find information it can be daunting and so i really i really want to thank you uh for participating and making it understandable i think it’s it’s been terrific and to assembly member thank you very much for inviting me it’s always a pleasure to to do work together um from my perspective the most important part is that we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it it’s tough economic times it’s scary uh the pandemic has us all on edge but

we we will get through this and we’ll do everything possible to to to um to do it together well i wanted to just end by thanking again all the panelists who took time to help us to discuss with the public and to the public who are still watching this town hall on small business and fire preparation i hope you have been able to learn a thing or two please know that you can always contact my office the senator’s office or the insurance commissioner’s office if you have any questions we are here to serve you and we will get through this together thank you all for joining us here today thank you bye-bye