Are Wildfires Raising Homeowners Insurance Rates in California?

It's part of a larger debate going on within the state

What effect are wildfires having on the insurance market?
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Natural disasters have a way of ratcheting up the cost of homeowners insurance. In Florida, the threat of hurricanes and flooding amidst rising sea levels has caused insurance rates for homeowners near the water to rise as well. On the other side of the country, something similar is playing out, albeit with a very different type of disaster. In this case, the state is California and the disasters are wildfires, but the outcome is still the same: at-risk homeowners are seeing the cost of insurance go up considerably.

Citing recent filings with the state of California, Andrea Chang at the Los Angeles Times revealed that State Farm Insurance is looking to raise homeowners insurance rates within the state. These increases are not small; Chang points to a 52% increase for renters and a 30% increase for homeowners. Earlier this year, the Times reported that State Farm had opted to not renew 72,000 insurance policies across the state, with extreme weather conditions cited as one of the reasons behind their decision.

According to this latest report, California’s government responded to State Farm’s plans with an expression of concern. “This has the potential to affect millions of California consumers and the integrity of our residential property insurance market,” said the state’s insurance commissioner, Richardo Lara, in a statement.

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Earlier this month, Lara announced plans to make it easier for at-risk California homeowners to get insurance in areas with an elevated wildfire risk. “We are addressing this crisis of insurance availability head-on,” Lara said in a statement. “For the many Californians who live anywhere where wildfires are a threat, my Strategy will increase their options while requiring insurance companies to take their wildfire safety actions seriously.” In both the short term and the longer term, it certainly seems like we’ll be hearing more about this issue.

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