Tahoe Fire Victims May Find They're Not Fully Insured

Property owners who suffer losses in the Lake Tahoe fire could find that their insurance policies won't provide enough money to cover rebuilding costs.

State officials say underinsurance, as they call it, is a serious problem in California.

Many homeowners who thought they were fully insured found that their policies sometimes left them hundreds of thousands of dollars short of what they needed to rebuild following fires that destroyed more than 36-hundred homes in Southern California in 2003.

Dozens of homeowners told state officials after those blazes struck that insurers wrote their policies based on their estimate of a home's replacement cost. Those estimates turned out to be grossly inadequate.

State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner says his staff is trying to determine if underinsurance is a widespread problem in the Tahoe fire.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)