California Commissioner Holding Hearing on Homeowners Rates in Wake of Wildfires

September 16, 2020

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said today that he will convene an investigatory hearing in October in advance of initiating a series of regulatory actions that will protect residents from the increasing risk of wildfires.

His announcement comes as devastating fires continuing to burn across the state and the Western U.S.

The announcement notes that several years of deadly and destructive wildfires, intensified by climate change, have made insurance more difficult and expensive to find for many Californians, and that his actions will aim to help stabilize the insurance market while protecting lives and homes.

“With climate change fueling California’s devastating fires, I am taking action to bring down the risk of losing your home in a wildfire and losing your insurance to a non-renewal,” Lara said in a statement. “Californians need to know they can get and keep insurance they can afford before they buy, sell, or build a home. I will use my authority under California law and Proposition 103 to protect consumers and the future of a sustainable insurance market in our state.”

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association has been reached out to for comment.

Lara will take the following actions:

  • Developing home-hardening standards that are consistent, based in fire science, and apply to all insurance companies;
  • Giving transparency to consumers about their wildfire risk score and what they can do to reduce it. Insurance companies use wildfire risk scores to determine which homes they will write and the premium they charge;
  • Creating insurance incentives recognizing home hardening, mitigation of properties, and community mitigation actions; and,
  • Requiring that insurance companies seek adequate and justifiable rates to protect the solvency of the market.

Lara’s actions come as California Department of Insurance data shows that insurance has become less available and affordable for many residents.

“Our current reality of increasing insurance premiums and non-renewals hurts those who can least afford it, including working families and retirees on fixed incomes,” Lara said. “We can lower the insurance risk by incentivizing people to bring down the fire risk on their properties and in their communities with clear, science-based home-hardening standards. I call on insurance companies to work together with policyholders to renew California.”

The investigatory hearing, which will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held on Monday, Oct. 19. The CDI website has an official invitation to the virtual hearing with sign-in details.

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Latest Comments

  • September 17, 2020 at 6:37 pm
    Nice Try says:
    Lara's comments on this issue up to this point are a clear example of how in over his head he is when it comes to insurance. He's obviously ignorant to how the industry and si... read more
  • September 17, 2020 at 1:52 pm
    Jimbo says:
    While I would like to see some consistency in fire hardening standards, the department already tried that with replacement cost analysis. Nice idea, not real hopeful on more r... read more
  • September 16, 2020 at 8:34 pm
    Observor says:
    The challenge is that Department is too restrictive. An open market might raise rates for some in the short term, but enable more admitted carriers into the market. Currently,... read more

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