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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Good News from the Insurance Commissioner

1/30/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Good News from the Insurance Commissioner Santa Barbara remains strong in the face of adversity

When people bought there houses in Montecito, probably one of the furthest things from their minds was needing to buy flood insurance, especially when we were in the middle of a 6-year-old drought and we are located in a semi-arid climate.  Unfortunately, when the Thomas Fire burned to Montecito's back yard, all of the vegetation was stripped from the canyons and the soil was baked to a non-permeable state.  When the rains came, they did not soak into the ground but instead accumulated into a torrent of mud and debris that ended up devastating people's homes.  Normally, you would be out of luck because you did not carry flood insurance.  Well the statement put out by the insurance commissioner yesterday would certainly give reasons for homeowners to remain optimistic.  Here is the statement:

Jones issues formal notice to insurers regarding mudslide coverage for homeowners

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: January 29, 2018

Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov

Jones issues formal notice to insurers regarding mudslide coverage for homeowners 

Encourages survivors to file claims for mudslide, landslide, and debris flow based on preliminary indications that fire was efficient proximate cause 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today issued a formal notice to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the recent mudslide and debris flows if it is determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires was the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides. In general homeowners' insurance policies, excludes flood, mudslide, debris flow and other similar events.

However, Jones put insurers on notice that both the Insurance Code and case law have established the legal doctrine of "efficient proximate cause" which means if the facts show the Thomas Fire, a covered peril, was the efficient proximate cause of the subsequent mudflow, mudslides, debris flow, landslide, or other similar event, then damage caused by those events should be covered under the property owner's insurance policy. 

"Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017," said Commissioner Jones. "Preliminary indications are that the Thomas Fire burned vegetation which would otherwise have absorbed rainfall and held soils in place, which in turn resulted in the mudflows, mudslides, debris flows or landslides. If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner's insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses."  

Insurance Commissioner Jones is encouraging residents and business owners in Santa Barbara County affected by the mudslides, to file a claim with their insurance company. If consumers have issues navigating the claims process, or they think their claim was wrongfully denied they should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or online at www.insurance.ca.gov for assistance. 

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