Pixel Tracker

Monday, March 25 , 2019, 12:26 pm | A Few Clouds 59º

 
 
 
 

Insurance Claims Top $421 Million for Montecito Debris Flows

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says more than 2,000 claims have been filed for residential, commercial losses

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones talked about the insurance claims filed in the wake of the deadly Jan. 9 Montecito debris flows, which total almost $422 million as of Monday. Click to view larger
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones talked about the insurance claims filed in the wake of the deadly Jan. 9 Montecito debris flows, which total almost $422 million as of Monday.  (Courtesy photo)

Montecito-area residents and business owners have filed nearly $422 million in insurance-claim losses since the deadly Jan. 9 debris flows, the California Department of Insurance announced Monday.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said during a media conference Monday that insurers have received more than 2,000 claims for residential and commercial property losses, destroyed vehicles and other items.

Jones said there were 1,415 insurance claims listing $388 million for residential property losses, 235 claims totaling $27.2 million in losses for commercial properties, and 388 claims totaling $6.7 million for auto and other lines of insurance.

“Behind these figures lay loss of life, loss of homes, loss of properties and loss of precious moments, loss of businesses,” Jones said.

“These numbers tell only a part of the tale of the devastation that Montecito and other communities suffered.”

Twenty-three people were killed, and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed in the debris flows, which also caused huge infrastructure damage to the Montecito area. 

Santa Barbara County is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on a recovery map for Montecito, and updating flood hazard area maps, and rebuilding could take years.

Jones said the total amount of insured losses is likely to increase as more residents file claims with their insurers and as insurance companies adjust claims.

He outlined actions taken to reassure homeowners who did not have mudslide or flood coverage at the time of the debris flows. The state Department of Insurance has informed property and casualty insurance companies to honor claims if the residents had fire insurance.

The “proximate cause” of the debris flow was the catastrophic Thomas Fire in December that burned 281,893 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, he said.

Jones issued a formal notice in January to insurers reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the mudslide and debris flow if it’s determined the destruction of the land by the wildfire was the mudslide’s efficient “proximate cause.”

“The formal notice had a positive effect on the insurers,” Jones said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.