Homeowners and renters in 22 northern California counties are guaranteed not to lose their home insurance policies over the next year after the state on Monday announced a moratorium on people living near recent forest fires.
State law temporarily prohibits insurance companies from dropping out customers who live in zip codes next to or within the perimeter of a declared wildfire. Governor Gavin has issued six “state of emergency” declarations for the wildfires since July 23.
On Monday, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a temporary moratorium for around 325,000 policyholders living near these disasters. The order comes after Lara declared a similar moratorium in July on 25,000 policyholders in three counties in northern California.
“This California law allows my office to help give people the flexibility they desperately need while they recover,” Lara said in a press release announcing the moratorium.
This is the third year that California has issued these moratoriums on insurance since the law was passed in 2018. Last year, the state ordered the protection of more than 2.4 million policyholders during of a historic wildfire season that set records for the most land burned in a single year. .
This year, more than 7,500 forest fires have burned more than 3,593 square miles (9,305 square kilometers). That’s just over half of the land that burned down last year.
Insurance companies have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in recent years cleaning up natural disasters often exacerbated by climate change, including forest fires, hurricanes and floods.
California tenants and homeowners have been particularly affected. Fifteen of the state’s most destructive forest fires have occurred in the past 10 years, destroying thousands of homes and killing dozens of people.
This has made it more difficult to obtain home insurance for people living in areas affected by forest fires, with the Insurance Department reporting an increase in the number of insurance companies not renewing their coverage. Many of these people are required to purchase fire insurance from the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan, a state-mandated insurance pool required to sell policies to people who cannot purchase them through no fault of their own. .
The limits of the moratorium are set by the Department of Insurance, in consultation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Homeowners and renters can check the Department of Insurance website to see if their zip code is covered by the moratorium. Thursday’s order includes parts of Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Glen, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.