The mudslides that swept through Montecito in Santa Barbara County earlier this year were chaotic — and devastating.

They resulted in more than 20 deaths and scores of injuries. They destroyed more than 110 homes and 1,415 insurance claims were filed listing nearly $388 million in residential property losses, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article.

Many of those homeowners didn’t have flood insurance, but California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a formal notice in January to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages if it was determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires ultimately caused the mudslides.

“Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017,” Jones said in a statement issued in January. “If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses.”

Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, war or nuclear accidents. But a separate flood insurance policy may cover mudslide damage as long as the mud is carried by a river or stream of water. However, if it’s a landslide caused by a saturated hillside coming down it wouldn’t be covered by flood insurance. Most Mendicino homeowners did not carry flood insurance since there was was very little chance of flooding so something had to be done.

If you’re looking to buy a home you should check to see what kinds of natural disasters might occur in that area. For more information, contact Carol Smith at 661-803-3803 or visit