Some Thomas Fire, Flood Survivors Facing New Crisis: Insurers Battling Claims

Jun 26, 2018

Like hundreds of Montecito residents, January 9th, 2018 is a day Nick and Pamela Wheeler will never forget. It’s the day when they barely escaped the deadly storm, and debris flow which claimed 23 lives. The Wheelers say they are grateful to have come through the disaster unhurt, especially when so many others died, or were injured. But, there are among the Thomas fire and flood survivors facing a new challenge: trying to get money from their insurance companies.

They’re having to battle their insurance companies for compensation for their losses.

Santa Barbara County officials say they are hearing about a wide range of experiences from Thomas Fire and flood victims with insurance.

Ben Romo is Santa Barbara County’s Community Recovery and Engagement Coordinator with the County’s Office of Emergency Management. Romo says some victims say their insurance providers have been great, expediting the claims process, and not demanding documentation on every single thing lost on their homes. But, he says other victims report the process has been very difficult.

Nick and Pam Wheeler say some of the insurance issues from the debris flows which hit their Montecito home are daunting.

The Wheelers say as part of the claim, their carrier is demanding an itemized list of every single thing in the home worth more than twenty dollars, with proof of purchase.

The Wheelers say they are grateful to be alive, and have perspective on their losses considering how many others died. But, they admit they don’t know if their home can be saved, and if it has to be torn down, they aren’t sure if they can or will rebuild.