California Insurance Commissioner Lara Calls On Insurance Companies To Support Safety Efforts To Strengthen Homes And Mitigate Community Safety During Wildfire Awareness Month

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2020 California Sierra National Forest Creek Fire burn area south of Shaver Lake
Credits: Inciweb

May 16, 2021 – LOS ANGELES, Calif .– Joined by California homeowners and first responders during Wildland Fire Awareness Month, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara provided an update on the proactive steps he is taking to protect and prepare Californians. He also announced that some insurance companies are offering premium discounts to homeowners who take action to harden their homes and neighborhoods against wildfires – and called on more insurance companies to encourage this important and necessary fire mitigation.

“The science is clear: Homes and neighborhoods hardened by wildfires are more resistant to damage and easier for firefighters to defend, protecting lives, homes and our first responders,” said Commissioner Lara. “When insurance companies recognize the benefit of toughening up your home and providing incentives to consumers, it just builds on the hard work of homeowners and strengthens a competitive insurance market.”

Currently, eight insurers and the California FAIR Plan offer premium discounts based on home features or neighborhood mitigation efforts. Businesses represent about 13 percent of the state’s residential market. That number has risen from 6.8% since Commissioner Lara took office in 2019, with many other home insurance companies reaching out to the ministry with documents containing incentives and discounts to mitigate the hardening of homes and downturns. communities.

Community leaders across the state said the insurance incentives would strengthen their efforts to increase mitigation in local communities across the state.

“With a little education and planning to prepare, we can significantly reduce our risk of wildfire,” said Elaine Himelfarb, executive director of the Ventura Regional Fire Safety Council. “We all need to take responsibility for what we do as much as possible to protect our homes, our pets, our loved ones, our neighbors, our communities, the environment and hardening the home is one of the things. more efficient than we can do. “

“There has been a lot of emphasis that forest fires are bigger, burn longer and are more destructive than ever before, and people can be overwhelmed by these reports.” Novato Fire District Chief Bill Tyler said, whose department serves the town of Novato and the surrounding area of ​​Marin County. “There are ways to resilience and prevention, and measures to avoid losses caused by forest fires. Hardening your home by installing fire-resistant building materials and altering the landscape vegetation immediately around the home removes hazards and reduces risk, period. Our final destination is for insurers to see how these lanes merge into multiple lanes that come together and create a framework to avoid losses. “

“Our community has developed a multifaceted approach to fire prevention”, East Bay owner Sue Wecht said, board member of the Orinda Firewise Council, a network of firefighting communities. “We look forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Lara, and we hope that by taking these fire prevention measures around our homes, neighborhoods and throughout our city, insurance companies will recognize our efforts and reward us with more availability and will give us credit. to offset the expenses we have incurred. “

With our state of emergency increasingly marked by drought and the reality of climate change, Commissioner Lara is working alongside Governor Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders to rapidly increase incentives and funding for fire preparedness forest.

Commissioner Lara announced a forest fire mitigation partnership with Gov. Newsom’s administration in February who will establish home and community strengthening measures for renovations to existing older homes to help them seek and maintain insurance coverage. Representatives from the Department of Insurance, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have met since then.

“We need to help those who are least able to afford to harden their homes, including our seniors, with insurance premiums and financial assistance through our state budget.” added Commissioner Lara. “As I continue to work with the governor’s administration to create a list of cohesive mitigation measures, I want to see more insurance companies offering and expanding their incentive programs to support achievable mitigation efforts. “

Commissioner Lara strongly supports additional funding from the state budget for the modernization of existing old houses in vulnerable areas. Governor Newsom ramped up $ 536 million for wildfire preparedness by signing Senate Bill 85 in April, including $ 25 million in funds to help home building projects. Commissioner Lara supports additional spending on low-cost home renovations as part of the California Forest Fire Mitigation Financial Assistance Program, passed by the Legislature and enacted by Governor Newsom in 2019 .

Notes:

  • Watch Commissioner Lara’s remarks with local leaders on our Facebook page.
  • Insurers offering premium discounts are Mercury Insurance Group, USAA Group, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, American Modern Home Insurance Company, ASI Select Insurance Corporation, The Cincinnati Insurance Company, Wawanesa General Insurance Company and Occidental Fire & Casualty Company of North Carolina. .
  • While discounts differ from company to company, they recognize home hardening measures including embers resistant vents, closed eaves, and fire or sprinkler systems. as well as community-wide measures such as the Firewise Community designation or other active fuel mitigation program. To find out if their home qualifies for a discount, consumers can contact the businesses or find a licensed agent through the Insurance Department website.
    Source: CA. Insurance Department



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