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Commissioner-supported bill to increase protections for wildfire survivors and enhance data collection signed by Governor

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: September 21, 2018
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Commissioner-supported bill to increase protections for wildfire survivors and enhance data collection signed by Governor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that a bill he supported to strengthen consumer protections for wildfire survivors has been signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 824, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), provides valuable information to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) related to fire risk information on the residential property policies issued by insurers and also prohibits an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew a policy based solely on the fact that the insured structure is located within or adjacent to the fire perimeter when a state of emergency has been declared.


"As extreme wildfire risk grows, data from insurers detailing and documenting this risk has not kept pace," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Requiring insurers to provide wildfire risk data gives the Department of Insurance an important additional tool to help protect the 3.6 million Californians living in the Wildland Urban Interface. This data should help Californians living in high-risk areas access insurance products protecting their homes and communities. I thank the Governor for signing this bill and Senator Lara for so effectively championing it in the Legislature."

Wildfires are increasing in frequency and severity and currently CDI lacks the data to comprehensively analyze the total impact of wildfire risk on both the availability and affordability of homeowner's insurance in order to help homeowners. SB 824 allows CDI to gain information to better help homeowners and ensure a vibrant and robust insurer marketplace relating to fire risk. 

"SB 824 gives disaster survivors time to rebuild their lives without the unnecessary stress of losing their home insurance and putting their life's investment at risk," said Senator Ricardo Lara. "SB 824 also fills a gap of critical data about the availability and affordability of insurance to ensure a healthy market that will combat the growing risk of extreme wildfires."

SB 824 leads to the collection of important data that provides a more comprehensive picture of the changes in our marketplace. The availability of this data allows insurers to utilize aggregated information that should help them write more policies in the Wildland Urban Interface without overextending their risk profile.

Many homeowners in high risk counties are being non-renewed by their insurer. Many insurers are not writing insurance for some homes they determine to be at high risk of wildfire. Some homeowners also choose to not renew their policies because of steep premium increases and/or lower coverage. SB 824 prohibits insurance companies from cancelling or non-renewing any homeowner policies within or immediately adjacent to the fire perimeter of a declared emergency area for one year—extending current protections for those who experience total loss to add consumers whose homes survive the blaze.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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