Policyholders who lost their homes in the Oakland and Santa Barbara fires and the Loma Prieta earthquake are lucky in at least one regard (“Insurers Brace for Tally from Huge Oakland Fire,” Oct. 22). These events are so high-profile that it will be difficult for insurance companies to deny coverage without suffering a public relations backlash.
Many homeowners might be surprised to find that policies that cover fire or theft have been quietly rewritten to exclude coverage for other catastrophic and costly events such as earth movement, landslides and defective construction. Even claims against older policies that do not contain these exclusions are being denied, leaving many homeowners with the expensive and backlogged court system as the only way of recovering their loss.
It does our heart good to know that our insurance company, State Farm, will pay out $50 million to $70 million to the victims of the Oakland fire. We’re sure the money State Farm saved by denying our claim will help. We just wish our home could be restored so easily.
WILLIAM and JEAN RUECKER