California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said insurers have received over 2,000 claims over losses from the Montecito mudslide. To date they total about $421 million.
On January 9th of this year the mudslide and its debris tore through the area killing 21 people and damaging more than 400 homes and businesses.
In a statement released last week Jones said, “Over $421 million in insured losses represents more than property lost-behind these numbers are the tragic deaths of 21 people and thousands of residents traumatized by unfathomable loss. Recovering and rebuilding lives, homes and neighborhoods will take time-and it will be difficult. We will continue to do all we can at the Department of Insurance to help residents navigate the claims process and recover.”
Jones said he is making sure the survivors are protected and in his news release Jones said he has taken “extraordinary actions under his authority to protect survivors and make sure insurers deliver on their promises to policyholders.”
Those actions include:
• A formal notice to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the recent mudslides and debris flows if it is determined that the destruction of the hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires was the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides
• A notice to insurers that there is substantial evidence the fires were the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides
In December and into January the Thomas Fire burned 273,000 acres and caused $1.8 billion in damages. Jones said the “proximate cause” of the mudslide is that fire. It created soil conditions in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that led to the January mudslides.
The California Department of Insurance recently gave insurers a questionnaire about the commissioner’s proximate cause doctrine and did not receive any reports of denials. Jones contends because of his stance insurers are recognizing the efficient proximate doctrine and have been processing and paying mudslide claims under homeowner policies.
The commissioner also met with area residents and said, “Behind these numbers lay loss of life, loss of homes, loss of properties and precious moments, loss of businesses. These numbers tell only a part of the tale of the devastation that Montecito and other communities suffered.”
Source: The California Department of Insurance