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Santa Cruz Mountain wildfire victims feel mistreated by insurance provider

destroyed santa cruz county homes

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. (KION) More than 900 families in the Santa Cruz Mountains lost their home in the CZU Lightning Complex in August. Following the life altering disasters, many of these homeowners are relying on their insurance to help get them through this uncertain time.

A family in Boulder Creek reached out to KION, because their homeowners insurer, State Farm, has rejected a request by the state’s Insurance Commissioner to waive the requirement to complete a home inventory to collect personal property coverage money.

“They gave exceptions to people in 2017 and 2018 up north in the fires, and we're being treated differently. We don't understand it, and we've asked them in letters to explain it. And they're not,” Boulder Creek resident Luca Montemagni said.

In October, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara sent a notice to insurance providers. “In an effort to assist survivors of the 2020 California wildfires, I request all admitted and non-admitted residential property insurers to, consistent with past practice, provide relief to policyholders who suffered a total loss in the recent California wildfires by waiving the requirement of completing a personal property inventory to collect all or a significant portion of their personal property (or contents) policy coverage limits."

Lara said over the past few years the department has sent out similar requests to insurance companies and, “most residential property insurers provided at least 75% and up to 100% of personal property coverage limits”.

“Having to spend hours upon hours of thinking about all the things that you own, and writing a list and marking down how much each one costs. I mean it's just a painful emotional experience that we shouldn't have to go through,” Kerry Allen said.

State Farm told KION they pay for what they owe for property damaged or destroyed by a covered loss.

A report published by the state does list State Farm as complying with the agreement to give at least 70% of personal property inventory. However, a spokesperson told KION for privacy reasons they could not tell us why these Boulder Creek families aren’t included.

Montemagni and Allen say they have several other neighbors covered by State Farm who are in the same position.

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Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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