Schneiderman Insurance Agency, Inc. Blog
Since the recent discovery of a methane gas leak in Porter Ranch, California at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility has received a lot of attention in the news over the last few months little has been discussed of how insurance companies are looking at the situation. Thousands of families have either fled the Porter Ranch community or been relocated due to health concerns as a result of the gas leak. Their relocation has left homes vacant until the leak has been properly fixed. Schools, such as Castlebay Lane Elementary and the newly built Porter Ranch Community School, have been closed indefinitely and relocated to nearby facilities as well.
Many Porter Ranch residents have been caught off guard by this gas leak. As Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander said, “Most people weren’t aware that one of the largest gas storage facilities in the United States was in their backyard. There was, from what we’re hearing, no disclosure when they bought their homes.” With such an unprecedented situation affecting so many families, it is imperative that those affected fully understand how to best protect their homes, contents, and families during this difficult time.
Many homeowners have learned that their Porter Ranch insurance policy does not provide financial assistance in a unique situation such as this, though few are aware of the other concerns that they should be discussing with their Porter Ranch insurance agents. A Homeowner’s Insurance Policy often states a specified number of days a home can remain vacant before various coverages are eliminated due to the lengthy vacancy. Each insurance policy is different and how each insurance company handles the situation in Porter Ranch varies as well. It would be advisable for displaced residents to contact their local insurance agent and discuss their specific situation. In a short discussion with their insurance agent they should have a better understanding of what their particular insurance policy covers. Then any adjustments can be made as necessary. In some cases, obtaining a vacant home insurance policy may be necessary to provide the homeowner peace of mind.
The community of Porter Ranch has survived the 1994 Northridge earthquake, frequent wildfires and winds in excess of 70 mph. Residents have come together to rebuild their homes and the community time and time again, but this time things seem different. The mass exodus and relocation of Porter Ranch residents brings to question, “Who will return?” The affluent neighborhood of Porter Ranch is now suffering a real estate valuation crisis. Those who have decided to permanently relocate will most likely be selling their homes at a significant discount from the recent value prior to the gas leak or possibly renting their previous residence out at a discounted rate until rates and home values return to their prior amounts. While homes remain vacant, the concern over burglaries have arisen. With so much in flux, the future of Porter Ranch is unknown.
Whether The Southern California Gas Company will cover all of the insurance issues over this stressful time during relocation remains to be seen, it remains clear that those displaced families should reach out to their local Porter Ranch insurance agent to have a discussion and be sure they have adequate insurance coverage.