SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Nearly 45,000 insurance claims totaling a staggering $11.79 billion in losses have been filed in California in the wake of devastating wildfires in wine country and Southern California.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones made the disclosure on Wednesday in the fires that damaged and destroyed more than 32,000 homes, 4,300 businesses, more than 8,200 vehicles, watercraft, farm vehicles, and other equipment.
“At nearly $12 billion in insured losses, these claim numbers are staggering and represent the costliest fires in California history,” Jones said in a release. “The fires were unprecedented for their severity and disastrous consequences. Whole neighborhoods were wiped out, as wind-driven flames destroyed thousands of homes, upended tens of thousands of residents’ lives and tragically killed more than 45 people across the state.”
The number exceeds the total insurance claims from the top 10 previously most costly wildfires in California.
Before last year, California’s most expensive single fire was the 1991 Oakland Hills fire that prompted $2.7 billion in claims in today’s dollars.
The totals do not include insurance claims related to mudslides that buried homes and vehicles in Montecito when torrential rain fell on hillsides burned in the December fires.
Jones has used his authority to make sure insurers deliver on their promises to policyholders so the lengthy rebuilding process can begin.
Department personnel continue to assist consumers at local assistance and disaster centers in both Ventura and Santa Barbara, including the hard-hit area of Montecito where tons of mud and boulders tore through neighborhoods destroying and damaging more than 400 homes and businesses and killing 21 people.
If consumers have issues navigating the claims process, or they think their claim was wrongfully denied they are encouraged to contact the Department of Insurance, 800-927-4357 or online at http://www.insurance.ca.gov for assistance.