California Insurance Commissioner protects insurance coverage for 325,000 northern California wildfire survivors with mandatory one-year moratorium

Mandatory one-year moratorium prevents home insurance cancellations and non-renewals following declaration of emergency

September 20, 2021 – SACRAMENTO, California – Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today ordered insurance companies to retain residential insurance coverage for over 325,000 policyholders who have been affected by devastating wildfires in northern California in 22 counties. This Order protects people living within the perimeter or adjacent postal code from a declared wildfire, whether or not they have suffered a loss, including the Dixie, Caldor, River, Tamarack, Antelope, McFarland, Monument, Fly fires and Cache.

“Climate change-fueled forest fires continue to devastate homeowners and communities. My standstill orders help provide short-term relief as we tackle the root causes of these escalating natural disasters, ”said Commissioner Lara. “This California law allows my office to help people breathe the space they desperately need while they recover. I will continue to both enforce this law to protect consumers and continue to work to create long-term solutions. “

The commissioner’s ability to issue moratoria is the result of a California law he drafted in 2018 while he was a state senator to provide temporary relief from non-renewals to residents living inside or near a declared forest fire.

Today’s standstill order follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s six emergency declarations this summer and provides protection against one-year insurance company-initiated non-renewals for insurance policies. residential property in postal codes inside or near the fire perimeter. Moratorium declared today includes Governor Newsom’s decision July 23, 5 August, August 10, August 17, August 30, and September 7 Declarations concerning parts of Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Glen, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo counties and Yuba. One year of consumer protection against non-renewal begins on the date of the Governor’s declaration of emergency which included the fire affecting them.

today order protects 325,000 policyholders and is in addition to the 25,000 policyholders who were protected by the Commissioner’s standstill order following the fire emergency of July 23 in Lassen, Plumas and Siskiyou counties.

Consumers Can Go to California Insurance department website to see if their zip code is included in the moratorium. Consumers should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or by chat or email at assurance.ca.gov if they think their insurance company is breaking this law or if they have additional questions regarding claims.

The commissioner’s action is part of a larger solution he seeks for consumers and wildfire survivors, which includes work to increase insurance protections and market competition to help protect consumers. The actions of Commissioner Lara since taking office in 2019 include:

  • Rules introduced this would allow consumers to get their home or business ‘wildfire risk score’ from their insurance company and require that they receive credit for the steps they have taken to make their more secure properties.
  • Creation of a partnership with CAL FIRE, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and other state agencies to establish feasible, science-based home curing measures that would allow more people to receive a discount insurance or other incentive.
  • New sponsored insurance coverage enacted by Governor Newsom – despite opposition from insurance companies – it will mean larger payments for some claims, less paperwork from insurance companies and more help for those affected. ‘evacuation orders.
  • I ordered the FAIR plan, the State’s insurer of last resort, to offer a more comprehensive home policy as an option, which a judge recently confirmed.

“Protecting consumers is the first job,” added Commissioner Lara, who visited 36 counties before the pandemic and has held virtual meetings since then to listen to the challenges consumers face with insurance. “I use all possible tools to protect consumers in the aftermath of natural disasters intensified by climate change and to prevent greater losses. “

Following Governor Newsom’s state of emergency declarations, the Department of Insurance is partnering with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), in accordance with applicable law. force, to identify forest fire perimeters for mandatory moratorium zones. The Insurance Department will continue to work with CAL FIRE and CalOES to identify additional forest fire perimeters for any fire where there is a declaration of a state of emergency.

Remarks:

  • The mandatory one-year moratorium announced today covers 325,000 residential policies in postal codes located in or adjacent to the Dixie, Caldor, River, Tamarack, Antelope, McFarland, Monument, Fly and Cache fires under of Senate Bill 824 (Lara, Chapter 616, Statutes of 2018), also known as the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act.
  • While existing law prevents non-renewals and cancellations for those who experience total loss in areas prone to a declared disaster, the new law established protection for people living in or near a declared wildfire emergency whether or not they suffer a loss – recognizing for the first time in law the disruption that non-renewals cause in communities as a result of wildfires. Homeowners who have suffered a total loss of their property have up to 24 months of non-renewal or cancellation protection.
  • Consumers can go to Insurance department website to find the commissioner’s bulletin to see if their postal code is included in this moratorium.


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Justin D. O'Neill

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