October 6, 2022

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3 years after Camp Fire, homeowners battle insurance companies

It has been three years since the most destructive wildfire in California history roared through the city of Paradise, and some of the people who survived the Camp Fire are still embattled with their insurance company. Randy Hendrix and his wife Corrie’s home was charred in the fire but not destroyed.Randy Hendrix said he has fought tooth and nail with his insurance company to get the money he needs to finish fixing his home. “All the stuff I went through with the insurance company, it was a fight from day one, and I’m still fighting with them to this day,” he said. “It would have been a lot easier if the house would have just burned down — could have rebuilt it. I could have rebuilt it quicker than trying to still repair it. My mom had her money after they took pictures and verified that her place had burned down. It was three weeks later that she had all of her money.”According to Hendrix, the uphill battle started when an adjuster inspected the damage and did not approve additional living expenses.”You have no water, no gas, no electric and ash flying through the house, and it’s livable?” Hendrix asked in a sarcastic tone.He said he had a new roof installed shortly before it was damaged in the fire.His insurance company paid for some of the repairs, but the roof started leaking in several places during the winter, according to Hendrix. He and his wife noticed a dripping ceiling and the hardwood floors beginning to buckle from the moisture. Foremost Insurance, an affiliate of Farmers Insurance, refused to give Hendrix additional money to fix the leaks.A report from Foremost Insurance stated that “the interior water damage is due to the leakage of rain/wind-driven rain.” It went on to say “there is no coverage” for Hendrix’s claim.”They did not believe that the leak was from heat from the fire,” he said. “This is after they’ve replaced five feet of my shingles that had been melted to the sheathing of the house and then put new runners on the ridge.”Farmers Insurance emailed KCRA 3’s Brittany Johnson the following statement: “We have continuously worked with our customer to resolve his various claims. We have paid him for covered damages consistent with the terms of his policy and remain available to review any additional information he may have to support his claims.”Without any additional insurance money coming in, Hendrix said he feels like he’s in a lose-lose, situation. He fears it will get worse when winter arrives if his roof continues to leak. Hendrix is not the only person having problems with his insurance company. Multiple people have reached out to KCRA 3 Investigates to tell us about a variety of issues from lenders failing to make insurance payments, to insurance companies not paying enough to cover damages.After we began looking into one case, the insurance company settled with the homeowner but had them sign a non-disclosure agreement, which meant they could not speak with KCRA 3 anymore.Despite complaints, the California Department of Insurance stopped short of saying there’s a rise in people having trouble dealing with insurance companies. “Even even though we’re not seeing problems, when you come to the Department of Insurance, there may be things that you didn’t know were in the policy that can help you, and then if you are having a problem, we are definitely here to help fix it,” said Michael Soller, deputy commissioner for the Department of Insurance.Soller said following the devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018, additional protections were created for wildfire survivors which include:Additional living expenses for residents under mandatory evacuation.Some advanced payment for additional living expenses from insurance companies.A grace period to pay insurance bills.A mandatory one-year moratorium on insurance companies canceling or not renewing policies in or near a major wildfire.”What about people who suffered damage before these policies went into place?” KCRA 3’s Brittany Johnson asked.”We know that people are rebuilding, but there are also folks who are still having problems. They should be contacting our department because at this point a couple of years later, laws may have changed,” Soller said.Although Randy said he feels like giving up at times, he knows packing up and leaving everything behind isn’t an option at this point in his life.”I can’t go anywhere until I retire,” Randy said. “I’m invested so I just can’t just get up and move.”Any homeowner or business who had a fire loss and is not getting their claim paid can contact the California Department of Insurance for help by calling (800) 927-4357 or by emailing them through the website at insurance.ca.gov. If you are having problems with your insurance company, KCRA 3 wants to hear from you. Fill out this form on our website and our Investigates team will be in touch.

It has been three years since the most destructive wildfire in California history roared through the city of Paradise, and some of the people who survived the Camp Fire are still embattled with their insurance company.

Randy Hendrix and his wife Corrie’s home was charred in the fire but not destroyed.

Randy Hendrix said he has fought tooth and nail with his insurance company to get the money he needs to finish fixing his home.

“All the stuff I went through with the insurance company, it was a fight from day one, and I’m still fighting with them to this day,” he said. “It would have been a lot easier if the house would have just burned down — could have rebuilt it. I could have rebuilt it quicker than trying to still repair it. My mom had her money after they took pictures and verified that her place had burned down. It was three weeks later that she had all of her money.”

According to Hendrix, the uphill battle started when an adjuster inspected the damage and did not approve additional living expenses.

“You have no water, no gas, no electric and ash flying through the house, and it’s livable?” Hendrix asked in a sarcastic tone.

He said he had a new roof installed shortly before it was damaged in the fire.

His insurance company paid for some of the repairs, but the roof started leaking in several places during the winter, according to Hendrix. He and his wife noticed a dripping ceiling and the hardwood floors beginning to buckle from the moisture.

Foremost Insurance, an affiliate of Farmers Insurance, refused to give Hendrix additional money to fix the leaks.

A report from Foremost Insurance stated that “the interior water damage is due to the leakage of rain/wind-driven rain.” It went on to say “there is no coverage” for Hendrix’s claim.

“They did not believe that the leak was from heat from the fire,” he said. “This is after they’ve replaced five feet of my shingles that had been melted to the sheathing of the house and then put new runners on the ridge.”

Farmers Insurance emailed KCRA 3’s Brittany Johnson the following statement: “We have continuously worked with our customer to resolve his various claims. We have paid him for covered damages consistent with the terms of his policy and remain available to review any additional information he may have to support his claims.”

Without any additional insurance money coming in, Hendrix said he feels like he’s in a lose-lose, situation. He fears it will get worse when winter arrives if his roof continues to leak.

Hendrix is not the only person having problems with his insurance company. Multiple people have reached out to KCRA 3 Investigates to tell us about a variety of issues from lenders failing to make insurance payments, to insurance companies not paying enough to cover damages.

After we began looking into one case, the insurance company settled with the homeowner but had them sign a non-disclosure agreement, which meant they could not speak with KCRA 3 anymore.

Despite complaints, the California Department of Insurance stopped short of saying there’s a rise in people having trouble dealing with insurance companies.

“Even even though we’re not seeing problems, when you come to the Department of Insurance, there may be things that you didn’t know were in the policy that can help you, and then if you are having a problem, we are definitely here to help fix it,” said Michael Soller, deputy commissioner for the Department of Insurance.

Soller said following the devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018, additional protections were created for wildfire survivors which include:

  • Additional living expenses for residents under mandatory evacuation.
  • Some advanced payment for additional living expenses from insurance companies.
  • A grace period to pay insurance bills.
  • A mandatory one-year moratorium on insurance companies canceling or not renewing policies in or near a major wildfire.

“What about people who suffered damage before these policies went into place?” KCRA 3’s Brittany Johnson asked.

“We know that people are rebuilding, but there are also folks who are still having problems. They should be contacting our department because at this point a couple of years later, laws may have changed,” Soller said.

Although Randy said he feels like giving up at times, he knows packing up and leaving everything behind isn’t an option at this point in his life.

“I can’t go anywhere until I retire,” Randy said. “I’m invested so I just can’t just get up and move.”

Any homeowner or business who had a fire loss and is not getting their claim paid can contact the California Department of Insurance for help by calling (800) 927-4357 or by emailing them through the website at insurance.ca.gov.


If you are having problems with your insurance company, KCRA 3 wants to hear from you. Fill out this form on our website and our Investigates team will be in touch.

https://www.kcra.com/article/camp-fire-homeowners-insurance-companies-wildfire/38177380