CSAC Bulletin Article

Insurance Commissioner Announces Halt on Non-Renewals

December 12, 2019

On Thursday December 5th, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a mandatory one-year moratorium on insurance companies non-renewing policy holders in order to give temporary relief from non-renewals to residents living near a declared wildfire disaster. The order will help at least 800,000 homeowners in wildfire disaster areas in Northern and Southern California. Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, CSAC’s First Vice President, and Ventura County Supervisor Kelly Long stood side by side with the Commissioner in support of the announcement.

In August, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) released data revealing insurance companies are dropping an increasing number of residents in areas with high wildfire risk. The number of non-renewals rose by more than 10% last year in seven counties from San Diego to Sierra. The Commissioner’s order covers residential policies in ZIP Codes adjacent to recent wildfire disasters including areas impacted by the Eagle, Getty, Hill, Kincade, Maria, Saddle Ridge and Tick Fires. The order was made possible by SB 824, the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act, which Lara authored and passed during his final year as a State Senator.

Supervisor Gore urged partnership with insurance companies, saying “As communities across California continue to recover from wildfires and natural disasters, insurance companies are critical partners in helping our communities rise up. The inability to obtain insurance after disaster strikes impacts home values an tax revenues for emergency services that help ensure the integrity of California communities. On behalf of Sonoma County and every county statewide navigating the rebuilding and recovery process, we call on our insurance partners to help us move toward a more resilient future.”

In addition to announcing the moratorium, the Commissioner also came and spoke at the CSAC Board of Directors Meeting in San Francisco which took place as part of the Annual Meeting. At the Board meeting, the Commissioner discussed steps that CDI has taken to improve the fire insurance situation for consumers and provided information about his steps to modernize and strengthen the California FAIR Plan, California’s insurer of last resort. Starting in June 2020 the FAIR Plan will expand coverage to offer full homeowner policy in addition to its current limited fire-only policy. By April 1, 2020 the FAIR Plan will increase the Dwelling Fire combined policy limit from $1.5 million to $3 million in recognition of higher home values. By February 1st, 2020 the FAIR Plan will offer a monthly payment plan without fees and allow payment by credit card or electronic fund transfer without fees.

To find out if zip codes in your community are impacted by the Commissioner’s order please visit the CDI website here:
http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/0100-press-releases/2019/wildfirenonrenewalinfo.cfm

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