MONTECITO, Calif. - Storm-weary residents face another looming threat as California cements itself among the ranks of Florida, Texas and other states hit hard by massive wildfires or hurricane disasters; it is the growing risk of losing insurance coverage.
"We're hearing from people that they're not getting their policies renewed," said Abe Powell, Executive Director of the Bucket Brigade. "And we're hearing from insurance brokers who don't want to go on the record saying that they think that their company's going to leave and is not going to write policy in California anymore. I think everybody's worried."
A number of residents in Montecito have revealed that they've been dropped by their insurance companies, even though some of them never filed a claim linked to the December 2017 Thomas Fire or the January 9, 2018 mudslides and debris flow.
One Santa Barbara insurance agent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he is giving crucial advice to customers who currently have a policy: 'Hold on to it with both hands, no matter the cost.'
The agent confirmed that one -- if not two -- insurance companies are looking to leave California.
"People who can't get policies renewed are in real trouble," Powell said. "And I think that's going to affect the real estate market and I think it's going to affect the economy and I think it's something we need to talk about and start looking to the future and making a plan to deal with this."
Powell said the only fall-back for folks who can't get insurance is California Fair Plan Property Insurance. Powell also pointed out that for most homeowners in our area, the maximum policy isn't enough to cover a home and its contents.
Powell shared that local realtors are finding properties in Montecito that were built in the 1940s or 1950s, that have never had a problem, are now being considered as "uninsurable."
The insurance agent said he is now dealing with this entire issue every day.