The life, car and home insurance company Farmers Insurance Group is being sued by more than 1,000 homeowners from Los Angeles, California for allegedly refusing to honor policyholders' claims. The claims were made for the damage caused by the Station fire on the plaintiffs' properties.
According to the charges made by the homeowners living in the Station fire area, Farmers Insurance denied payouts and in some cases, minimized claim payouts for damages caused by the fire and by the ash and soot that came from the blaze. The damages sought by the plaintiffs were unspecified. A spokesman from the insurance firm has stated that Farmers' legal unit is currently reviewing the lawsuit.
The Station blaze started on August 26, 2009 at the Angeles Crest Highway and continued on for over a month. It consumed 89 residential properties and forest land estimated to be totaling 160,000 acres. It also caused the death of two firefighters from Los Angeles County. The fire produced ash cloud that covered communities in the county's foothills and produced a smoke-filled smell among houses and cars for several weeks.
One of the plaintiffs in the case against the home insurance company, a resident of Palm Drive, reported that her residence was covered in ash and smoke while the fire rages on. After the fire was put under control, she revealed that her swimming pool had ash for months.
Every time rain or wind passes through the area, ash would accumulate in her pool and in her yard. She also stated that an assessor from Farmers Insurance visited her home to take samples and later informed her that the damage only amounted to $600, which means that she did not meet the deductible minimum of $1,000.
Some of the homeowners who filed the lawsuit have complained that other residents living in the foothills, including those who live even further from the area of fire, were able to receive claim payouts. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have added that the home insurance company is deliberately denying the claims in the hope that the homeowners will end up getting discouraged and will just give up.