California to require insurance discounts for property owners who reduce wildfire risk
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected Wednesday to take a major step toward requiring insurers to cover fire risk through state insurance programs as part of his push to promote wildfire prevention.
Brown’s proposed mandate would require insurers to cover wildfire risk for the properties that reduce fire risk.
The proposal requires insurers to offer discounts of 20 percent on the costs of building structures that resist fire and can be removed if the risk of fire is reduced.
More wildfire coverage, or insurance, would be more expensive for home owners. A recent report said about 90,000 households in California received the 20 percent discount but many didn’t use it.
Under the proposal, the state would pay the insurers to cover the risk of wildfires, and the programs would subsidize the cost of wildfire-prevention measures for the rest of the community.
The proposal would apply to all commercial and residential fire-risk insurance policies, not just homeowners and renters’ policies, as would be the case in many other countries.
The idea of requiring insurers to cover wildfire risk has been the subject of considerable discussion since the devastating Wine Country Fire of 2016.
Fire officials had suggested in a previous legislative session that the risk of fire was a property-owners’ responsibility.
In 2016, a year after the Wine Country Fire, the California Senate unanimously adopted a bill that would have required insurers to cover property owners in wildfire-prone areas at the 10-20- and 50-100-percent-risk levels, with the lower tiers covered by the state.
But the proposal was killed in the house of representatives.
A new report on wildfire risk prepared by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection projects that California could face a 25 percent to 40 percent increase in wildfire risk without government intervention. It used wildfire data from the past three decades, and projected the growth in future fire risks based on a combination of factors,