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Seniors in Oceanside receive help with insurance after CBS 8 story

CBS 8 is Working For You and helped seniors who lost their HOA insurance and left paying 800% more for coverage.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — A senior community that came to CBS 8 for help says they feel like they're finally being heard.

Last week, CBS 8’s Abbie Alford went to Oceanside to hear their concerns over a huge spike in insurance costs.

Some have even been designated a fire risk and lost their coverage. But the deputy fire chief in Oceanside says there has not been a recent direct fire event that would increase their risk.

Since then, insurance brokers have reached out to help.

When CBS 8 visited Pilgrim Creek Estates on Thursday, they were welcomed by an entire room of residents waiting to give them an earful about how they were dropped from their HOA insurance and the cheapest they could find would cost them 800% more.

“They've had heart problems because this, have had mini strokes,” said Corrine Oshima, resident.

Since many have seen our story, they also don’t think this is right.

HOA board member Katy Drexler says they’ve received calls from those inquiring about a bid.

“We've got several agents and brokers who have contacted the office, and she referred them to me,” said Drexler.

She retired from the insurance industry so knows a bit about coverage but says when American Alternative Insurance dropped them because they are in a so-called high fire risk, they put out 30 bids and the cheapest annual premium they could find went from $20,000 to $160,000.

CBS 8 couldn't get any answers from American Alternative, so we reached out to the company’s subsidiary company Munich Re who wrote in an e-mail statement: 

Munich Re doesn’t comment on individual policies. If the policyholder has a question(s), he/she should reach out to the telephone number on that letter and/or their agent.

“What does California do? When nobody will insure associations or even individual homes within state because of the fire risk,” asked Drexler.

Pilgrim Creek Estates is not alone, since the story on Thursday, CBS 8 has received e-mails from others whose coverage went up to $600,000 and $900,000.

“If we could band together with other homeowners’ associations community similar to ours. Maybe we could have a louder voice with more people,” said Oshima.

She is responsible for writing letters, that’s how they reached out to CBS 8 for help and sent letters to their state representatives and Congressman Mike Levin.

“There needs to be a national fire insurance program similar to that of 1994 National Flood Insurance program,” said Oshima.

State Senator Patricia Bates emailed CBS 8 and said it received the letters and is gathering information from the residents, the insurance company, and the California Department of Insurance. 

Bates sits on the Insurance committee and says she supported 2020 legislation (AB 2167, SB 292). Bates says it would created a comprehensive framework to that would increase the availability of admitted market insurance in high fire-threat areas and help reduce risk and loss through individual home hardening and community-wide wildfire mitigation.

CBS 8 has not heard back from Assembly Member Tasha Boerner Horvath. We received the following statement from Congressman Mike Levin:

“It is unacceptable that these families are facing extraordinary rate increases for home insurance, particularly without a reasonable justification from the insurers. My office has heard from the affected residents and we look forward to helping them however possible. While the California Department of Insurance has the most authority in these situations, I have reached out to my colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance issues, to discuss federal action that could provide relief for local homeowners.”

“I don't know how long I can keep this up, eventually I'll have to sell the house,” said Jerry Petterson, resident.

The community says they are grateful CBS 8 is working for them to get help.

“We're not used to being very vocal. And so the fact that we've been heard, that's what I heard from our residents is that they just slept a little bit better,” said Oshima.

The California Department of Insurance continues to deny our request for an interview with Commissioner Ricardo Lara about his proposed regulations that he says will drive down insurance costs. His office says they are investigating Pilgrim Creek Estates issues.

Next week on Capitol Hill, The House Financial Services committee is holding a hearing called the State of Emergency: Examining the impact of growing wildfire risk on the insurance market.

At CBS 8, we are always Working for You and our San Diego community. If there is something you would like us to investigate, please share your idea here or email us at workingforyou@cbs8.com. 

WATCH RELATED: Oceanside mobile home community says fire insurance went up 800% (Sep. 2022).




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