Fire Insurance Crisis for Homeowners

Homeowners who didn’t realize their homes were in California’s wildfire zone have been shocked by their insurance situations—whether they live in high-income or rural areas, flatlands or foothills.  Various homes in affluent Brentwood or Bel-Air have had their fire insurance rates hiked up steeply. In many cases policies have been cancelled—even when no claims have been made.

Lenders require that the homeowner maintain a policy, but in the zip codes with highest risk of fire in California, there were 8,751 cases of non-renewed homeowner insurance in 2018 alone.  Non-renewed homeowners scramble to find new insurers in a scarce market, where they are turned down by traditional insurers–often without being told why.  

Insurance companies, in an age of climate change-induced fires, are struggling to fortify their companies against financial collapse.  Homeowners, meanwhile, feel abused by the companies, especially if they’ve been denied discounts for “hardening” their homes by clearing brush, installing fire-resistant roofing, etc.  

As it copes with the “new normal” of climate change, the Department of Insurance has yet to step up its oversight of how insurers are deciding who they’ll cover and how much they may charge.  

For more information and to learn about the non-traditional insurance that homeowners have been forced to purchase, read Michael Hiltzik’s full article at: