SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved SB 824, the Wildlife Safety and Recovery Act by an 8-0 vote to prohibit insurance companies from cancelling or not renewing a homeowner’s policy for one year if they live in an area 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.
Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Lake County on June 25 in response to the Pawnee Fire, which would trigger the protections in SB 824 for those living in the fire perimeter or adjacent zip codes.
“With wildfires burning again even those whose houses survive the flames face the risk of losing their insurance,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “We already prohibit cancellation for those who lose their homes in a disaster, and extending that to all homeowners will stabilize communities and home values and let the recovery begin.”
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.
Improved data about how insurance companies establish risk and the potential cost of natural disaster is especially critical as experts predict rising global temperatures will lead to a “new normal” of extreme weather events.
SB 824 is supported by the California Department of Insurance, the Napa and Placer County Boards of Supervisors, and the California League of Cities.
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.
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.