When the hills above Montecito Shores HOA were devastated by the Thomas Fire in late 2017, residents were relieved to be spared from the flames. However, when heavy storms pounded the area just a few weeks later, the ocean-adjacent community was not expecting to be affected by a devastating mudslide. Thankfully none of the Montecito Shores HOA residents were injured, but many were displaced by the river of mud that made its way through their community, damaging and destroying homes in its wake. The location became uninhabitable, and police barred residents from entering.
The homes that were hit the hardest by the mudslide were directly below the area of the Thomas Fire. They were found to be prone to debris flows because of the steep, rugged terrain as well as the nature of the fire. The Thomas Fire burned exceptionally hot and changed the physical properties of the soil, which made the ground on the hills less absorbent and more erodible. Unstable dirt and layers of ash residue further reduced the underlying soil’s ability to absorb rainwater, and the heavy rains that followed the fires combined to create a recipe for a devastating disaster.
When it came time to begin repairing the damaged homes, some homeowners in the area found that their insurance carriers were slow to offer coverage, or downright unhelpful. Many carriers delayed coverage, as they believed that this destruction was technically a “flood loss” and wouldn’t qualify for coverage under the typical homeowners policy. However, Farmers Insurance covered Montecito Shores HOA residents’ losses, citing that the damage was caused by the Thomas Fire, not flooding, and should not be excluded.
Not all carriers are created equal, and not all carriers are as supportive when it comes to claims. A startlingly high number of homeowners who is still struggling to receive coverage for the damages today, four months after the mudslide. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has noted that they have not yet received all of the numbers for insurance claims filed as a result of the Thomas fire and Montecito mudslide. However, he did add that the 2017 fire season was “collectively the most catastrophic event” in California in terms of damages to property.
As a homeowner, you never know when you’re going to need insurance coverage, and you want to make sure that your insurance carrier is prepared to protect you in the worst-case scenario. The oceanfront community of Montecito Shores HOA did not expect to be affected by California wildfires, let alone affected as severely as they were, but thankfully residents were covered from the aftermath by their Farmers Insurance homeowners’ policies. Without a carrier like Farmers, Montecito Shores homeowners would likely still be displaced and struggling to put their homes and their lives back together.
Farmers Insurance is always here to help clients during different times. Farmers greatly values its customers and continues to go above and beyond to ensure that they will be fully compensated for their personal property losses up to their policy limits so they can get back to enjoying their beautiful community as soon as possible. You don’t want to take chances with your life, your home, and your safety. Contact Farmers today to get an insurance policy that will truly protect you when you need it most.
About Scott Litman Insurance Agency
At Scott Litman Insurance Agency, we are dedicated to protecting HOA’s like yours. We have a unique understanding of the industry and the common risk exposures that you face in your daily operations. In fact, we find that 90% of the policies we review are missing coverages that violate the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), exposing the board, HOA and management to lawsuits– which is why our comprehensive policies are tailored to meet your specific needs at competitive prices. For more information about our products, contact our experts today at (855) 999-4505, or fill out our online form.