Watch CBS News

Call Kurtis Investigates: California FAIR Plan policy delays

Call Kurtis: California FAIR Plan policy delays
Call Kurtis: California FAIR Plan policy delays 01:00

PENN VALLEY — It's expensive and it's known as the insurance of last resort. California homeowners are forced to turn to the FAIR Plan when no other insurer will cover their homes against fire.

However, customers, insurance and real estate agents report struggling to get policies. CBS13 has learned the delays are keeping some potential homebuyers from closing on their new homes.

Rene Swierad works with insurance agents across California and reports long wait times, system glitches, a backlog of new business and no grace period on payments. The problems seem to have started earlier this month when the FAIR Plan switched over to a new software system.

"I have agents, realtors, lenders that are at a standstill as we wait for Fair Plan to fix their system, but we cannot wait much longer," Swierad said. "Clients and agents have been on hold 5-plus hours to speak to a Fair Plan rep."

Penn Valley Real Estate Broker Jacqueline Garrens said the delays are keeping some from closing on homes.

"It has been 3 to 4-plus weeks that a few of my clients submitted their applications for the California FAIR Plan with absolutely no answer," Garrens wrote. "They don't answer their phones."

In fact, she says that because of the delays, she was forced to close on a mobile home without having insurance. It's an option that people who are financing their new homes may not have.

The California FAIR Plan is not a state agency but a pool of insurance providers who share in the profits and losses associated with policyholders who live in high-risk areas.

We reached out to the California FAIR Plan Association. A spokesperson confirmed problems during the transition to new software, called the Duck Creek portal.

"The California FAIR Plan Association (FAIR Plan) is committed to ensuring all Californians have access to basic property coverage and the peace of mind they deserve. The FAIR Plan has experienced historic growth, and more Californians are continuing to turn to it for the coverage they need. The FAIR Plan recently transitioned to a new system and has provided early notifications, training, FAQ, weekly webinars, and additional assistance to help brokers successfully utilize the new software to meet the needs of policyholders looking for FAIR Plan policies. However, there have been some challenges during the transition. The FAIR Plan is actively working to respond to any concerns and continues to offer support. The materials can be accessed by brokers via the FAIR Plan's broker portal."

The association, though, says that to get through the call volume, it's extending customer service hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

They acknowledge issues with their 1-800 number in a post on their website.

"If you are a broker calling regarding access to Duck Creek or DMS, please select option 6 on the phone menu. We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with our (800) number. We are working with our phone service provider to restore full service. If you experience a busy signal when calling this number, please call us instead at (213) 487-0111. Thank you."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.