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    Setting Brushfires of Freedom by Don Jans

    Can CA fix rising fire insurance costs?

    By Levi Sumagaysay.

    How much would you pay to insure your home in case it burns down in a wildfire?

    The Smithlines, a retired couple in Placer County, decided they just won’t anymore — after their premiums spiked to $6,000 this year from $1,800 in 2020.

    That’s a choice they can make because their home is fully paid off. But for homeowners who still have a mortgage, living without fire insurance isn’t an option and they’re not yet seeing the relief from state efforts to address the crisis, reports CalMatters’ Levi Sumagaysay.

    As carriers leave the state amid more and more frequent wildfires, more homeowners are turning to the state-run FAIR Plan as a last resort, which offers more expensive policies to those who can’t find traditional insurance.

    After the Legislature failed to reach an 11th-hour deal, the California Department of Insurance is developing policies to help alleviate the problem.

    Insurers and consumer groups say new regulations may not take effect until 2026, but the department disagreed. Michael Soller, spokesperson for Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, said the department is moving “at the speed of good policy.”

    Soller: “We’re going to be judged by the impact we have over the long term. There’s no magic solution to this.”

    The department’s proposal appears to give insurers what they want as long as they provide enough coverage in wildfire-prone areas, among other things. In response, one consumer group has slammed it as “deregulation” efforts that would not benefit homeowners.

    Some homeowners hope insurers can factor in community efforts in reducing wildfire risks when setting the premiums.

    Donna Yutzy, a homeowner in Magalia in Butte County: “Take a look at what the communities are doing generally in terms of fuel reduction and wildfire mitigation. We have so many things going on that insurers should be looking at.”

    Read more on this issue in Levi’s story.

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