Governor Brown Signs Bill to Expand Insurance Relief for Homeowners in a Disaster Area and Require Wildfire Risk Data From Insurers

September 21, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today Governor Brown signed SB 824, the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), to expand insurance protections for homeowners following a wildfire disaster.

SB 824 prohibits insurance companies from cancelling or not renewing any homeowner policies for one year within and immediately surrounding a declared emergency area – extending protections that currently exist for those who experience total loss to those whose homes survive the blaze.

SB 824 also orders insurance companies to report detailed wildfire risk data to the Department of Insurance, in order to give a full picture of the insurance market in an era of increasing wildfires.

“SB 824 gives disaster survivors time to rebuild their lives without the unnecessary stress of losing their home insurance and putting their life’s investment at risk,” said Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “SB 824 also fills a gap of critical data about the availability and affordability of insurance to ensure a healthy market that will combat the growing risk of extreme wildfires.”

Governor Brown has declared 22 states of emergency for wildfires in the past 18 months. An emergency declaration would trigger the protections in SB 824 for those living within the fire perimeter or adjacent zip codes.

California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment predicts that the area burned by wildfires could grow by 77% and lead to higher insurance costs.

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 super pollutants 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 joins 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.