Senator Lara Advances the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act to Stem Tide of Insurance Cancellations and Non-Renewals

January 04, 2018

Wildfire Safety and Recovery ActSACRAMENTO, Calif. – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has formally introduced the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act (Senate Bill 824) in response to a growing outcry from homeowners facing insurance cancellation and non-renewal after a record-setting storm of wildfires.

Homeowners in both rural and urban areas have reported losing insurance, even in areas traditionally considered low-risk for wildfires.

The Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act will help California adapt to the “new normal” of extreme wildfire risk, keep people and homes safe and ensure an ongoing strong market for insurers.

“Fires are still smoldering in Southern California but the threat of losing your insurance is just starting for homeowners across the state,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “The Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act will protect homeowners in disaster areas from cancellation or non-renewal and harness the power of the insurance market to promote fire safety and prevent wildfire damage in the future.”

Senator Lara joined local leaders from Placer County last month in support of the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act. Placer County has led a regional effort to seek legislative relief for insurance challenges affecting its residents.

The Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act will:

  • Prevent insurance companies from dropping or non-renewing customers following a wildfire disaster.
  • Require insurance companies to offer mitigation discounts and continued coverage to homeowners who make investments in wildfire safety.
  • Require approval by the Department of Insurance before insurance companies reduce the volume of policies in high-risk areas, in order to minimize market disruptions for homeowners and communities.

California would join states including Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas, New York and Florida that prohibit or limit insurance companies from canceling or non-renewing policies following a natural disaster. Others, like Alabama, require insurance companies to offer discounts to property owners who “harden” their homes against disasters.

California and local laws require homeowners to maintain a defensible space of 100 feet around structures and fire-resistant building materials in new homes. Homeowners can also harden their home with fire-resistant roofing and other materials, and by covering chimneys and vents, according to Cal Fire. The Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act would require insurance companies to offer discounts to homeowners who take additional steps to protect their homes.

Click here to read the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act (SB 824).