A special ombudsman has been designated within the state Department of Insurance to review the rejected insurance claims of Lakewood residents whose homes have been damaged by the high sulfate content of soil beneath a tract near Del Amo Boulevard and the 605 Freeway.
"(The ombudsman) might not be able to help everyone, but there might be someone out there who has been ignored or taken advantage of," said Carrie Harper, a legislative aide to state Assemblyman Paul Zeltner (R-Lakewood), whose office requested the action.
Zeltner made the request, Harper said, after being contacted by constituents in the area whose homes have been severely damaged. In recent months, residents say, the concrete foundations of as many as 100 homes in the Sunshine Homes tract have begun disintegrating due to the acid-like sulfates. Experts disagree on why the sulfates are there, but say the only way to save the homes is to replace the foundation slabs with sulfate-resistant concrete--an arduous process costing up to $70,000 per home.
While most insurance companies have agreed to pay for the work, some--most notably State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.--have refused, claiming that their policies specifically exclude problems related to concrete.