Insurers Issue Non-Renewals in Wake of Wildfires
Insurers are increasingly issuing non-renewal notices to Bay Area residents in California, many of which live in areas of only moderate fire risk. Michael Stoller with the California Department of Insurance says, “We’re hearing this message again and again: people being dropped by their insurance companies. And again and again the reason is wildfire risk. 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.”
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, he says.
Several insurance companies in Oregon have placed a moratorium on new homeowner policies for Salem-area buyers as wildfires continue to burn large parts of the state. The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DIFR) says no agency in the state has canceled policies. However, DIFR spokesperson Brad Hilliard says insurance companies are allowed to temporarily suspend the writing of policies on a case-by-case basis during a wildfire, and insurers will not have to notify the state if that occurs. The Northwest Insurance Council’s Kenton Brine says homeowners insurance is required by lenders for a home purchase, and it’s common for companies providing coverage to suspend writing policies during natural disasters.