Senate Extends Insurance Relief to All Homeowners in a Wildfire Disaster Area

May 29, 2018

Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act (SB 824) prohibits insurance cancellation for one year following a state of emergency and collects much-needed insurance data on risk

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Following last year’s devastating wildfires, homeowners who survived the flames faced a new disaster: the possibility of losing their home insurance to cancellation or non-renewal.

Today the Senate approved SB 824, the Wildlife Safety and Recovery Act by a 27-5 vote to prohibit insurance companies from canceling or not renewing a homeowner’s policy for one year if they live in a county with a declared state of emergency.

SB 824 extends protections that currently exist for homeowners who lose property in a fire or disaster to their neighbors whose homes survive.

SB 824 also orders insurance companies to report detailed wildfire risk data to the Department of Insurance, in order to increase transparency in risk assessment.

“In the new normal of extreme wildfire risk and climate-caused disasters we have to protect all homeowners from becoming the victims of insurance cancellation or non-renewal,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “The deadly North Bay and Ventura fires exposed homeowners’ vulnerability, even if their homes survived the flames. The Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act will help stabilize communities, home values and insurance markets following a natural disaster.”

The call for data would give California greater transparency in how insurance companies establish risk and the potential cost of natural disaster. That is especially critical as experts predict rising global temperatures will lead to greater stress on forests, wildlands and wetlands, and communities living in the shadow of climate change.

California would join states including Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas, New York and Florida that prohibit or limit insurance companies from cancelling or non-renewing policies following a natural disaster.

Senator Lara is a member of the Senate Insurance Committee and the author of a landmark law to reduce the effects of climate change by reducing superpollutants like methane, black carbon and HFCs. He was recognized along with Governor Brown last year by the United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition for the passage of the Super Pollutant Reduction Act (SB 1383) at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

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