Photo: Elijah Nouvelage, Special To The Chronicle
The California insurance commissioner and a state legislator running to replace him have released competing proposals for how to solve the problem of insurance availability and affordability in fire-prone developments abutting wildland.
The two plans would add regulations to the industry in an effort to help homeowners keep their residential insurance policies or find new ones at low rates. They come after a record wildfire season destroyed or damaged more than 20,000 homes and buildings across the state.
For several years now, property owners in high-risk zones of California, like the Sierra foothills, have seen their homeowners insurance policies not renewed or gotten premium increases when forced to switch firms. Companies say choosing not to write or renew a policy is part of a vital risk-assessment process that allows them to stay solvent and profitable so they can pay claims in a worst-case scenario.
A report containing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones’ legislative proposals, released Thursday, found that insurance firms not renewing policies increased from 8,796 cases in 2015 to 10,151 cases in 2016. Other years are not included.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, meanwhile, introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the state Department of Insurance to approve significant policy reductions in a particular geographic region. It would also create other regulations around nonrenewals and require companies to give discounts to homeowners who do fire mitigation around their properties.