The effects of the Thomas Fire are still being felt for one Ventura family that claims their insurance company is failing to cover the damage done to their home.
Tina Marquez’ home on Colina Vista street survived the fire, but she says her family is now in a battle with Farmers Insurance.
“The overall sentiment from our insurance company was that we don’t really care, you’ll just deal with it…it is what it is and we don’t owe you anything,” said Marquez.
Marquez and her Husband, Sean, are the first Thomas Fire victims to file a bad faith lawsuit against an insurance company. After they noticed their home suffered internal and external damage, they filed a claim with Farmers Insurance.
She says the company offered her $2,600 to clean the home but her family has spent more than $15,000 to make their home livable again.
“It’s not environmentally clean, we have five air purifiers, which we have to clean every two weeks and one air scrubber,” said Marquez.
Marquez’s five-year-old son, Max, struggles with respiratory issues and she says his asthma has gotten worse since the fire.
“Every once in a while he will wake up in the middle of the night and wake me up and say, ‘Mommy I can’t breathe,'” said Marquez.
In frustration, the family decided to file suit. They claim Farmers Insurance didn’t pay enough for the damage and acted in bad faith.
“What Farmers is doing is they are trying to draw a distinction between damage caused by a flame or from heat,” said Attorney, Dennis Jones. “They are trying to distinguish that between what was caused by soot, ash, smoke and char, and we believe that is a distinction they are not allowed to draw under California law.”
We reached out to Farmers Insurance for a statement. A spokeswoman says, “We decline comment on matters in litigation.”
Marquez says she is happy to have her home still standing, but worried for the long-term health effects.
“We have been here all this time in an environment that is not clean,” said Marquez. “How is that affecting our health right now? What is that going to mean in the future?”