Insufficient response from Insurer regarding smoke, ash and char damage #ThomasFire #Insurance #StateFarm

This is just a short synopsis on what I have learned from personal experience during the Thomas Fire in Ventura, CA. My residence insurer is State Farm. All the following facts are documented and true. There is little to do when an insurance company refuses to negotiate reasonable requests the owner provides along with  estimates from commercial restoration companies. Blogging about it seems quixotic.

  • Our residence experienced smoke damage. The fire came within 35 feet of the east facing of the structure; winds were in excess of 70mph; adjacent houses were totally destroyed.
  • One window in our residence was dislodged and numerous other windows allowed smoke, ash and char to invade the entire structure.
  • State Farm’s adjuster performed a site inspection. No particulate testing was done. The adjuster “eyeballed” for the presence of contaminants. He allowed certain rooms as being “clear” of damage and the remainder as having “soot.”
  • The State Farm estimate for restoration amounted to $14,000 including costs for food, utilities, and rent of a trailer while we are evacuated. We are starting our 3rd month in a  trailer outside of Ventura.  Our damaged house has 2400 sf.
  • We contacted numerous commercial service companies in order to rectify the damage to the house. These vendors all did their own inspections with written estimates. The total amount of the estimates are over $50K.
  • Due to State Farm’s inadequate response, all dates for these services to be performed have been stalled.
  • State Farm has failed to accept any of these estimates using such terms as “potentially fraudulent” and declaring them “excessive and suspect.” State Farm has also failed to negotiate with any of these licensed contractors.
  • State Farm expected us to return to the home on Jan 4, 2018 regardless of the dispute we previously documented from the outset of this process. Its statement that money originally advanced was sufficient to cover all costs. Our deductible is $5200. The advance was $9,000 given on December 6, 2017. According to the State farm adjuster then in charge,  the net owed us owed  by State Farm to be approximately $230. The following statement was made by the adjuster: “Just give us more estimates if something comes up.”
  • The estimates given have all been ignored.
  • Analytical testing of the interior of the residence was requested by the insured months ago. State Farm hired their own “hygienist” company a few weeks ago. Testing results go directly to State Farm Inc. The results are now overdue.
  • I have filed a Complaint with the Department of Insurance. The document is a composite of a number of updates I have provided the DOI.   Apparently the DOI has no enforcement powers and promises to “intercede” in our behalf during negotiations. Obviously, none of this has happened to date.


About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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