Insurance Carriers Dropping Bay Area Policies Over Fire Risk

More and more Bay Area residents in hilly or tree-lined neighborhoods are finding non-renewal notices from their homeowner’s insurance companies, many in areas of only moderate fire risk.

For example, Peninsula residents who live nowhere near the massive CZU Lightning Complex are getting dropped from their insurers.

“We’re hearing this message again and again: people being dropped by their insurance companies. And again and again the reason is wildfire risk,” said Michael Stoller with the California Department of Insurance. “It’s confusing. It’s upsetting for consumers who may have been with a company for 20 or 30 years. And nothing really changed in their home, nothing changed in their lives, but their insurance company is not renewing them.”

With too many fires to count and staggering property losses, insurance companies are increasingly deciding that some home are not worth insuring. Stoller says that while it is within an insurer’s right to drop a policy, homeowners should try to work with their insurer first.

“Go back to your insurance company and see If there’s anything that you can do to retain your insurance. Some insurance companies we have seen are offering mitigation steps,” such as adding fire resistant material to your roof.

That can be much more desirable than the alternative, a FAIR Plan police of last resort that can get expensive quickly and offer less protection than traditional insurance.

“Fire officials say it and first responders say there are steps you can take to actually make your house more survivable. And that’s critical,” said Stoller.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will hold a virtual town hall Friday with more information on wildfire preparedness.

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