Commissioner Lara protects insurance coverage for additional Siskiyou County residents following wildfires
News: 2022 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As another major wildfire threatens Siskiyou County homeowners, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today ordered insurance companies to preserve residential insurance coverage following Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest emergency declaration. The Commissioner’s Bulletin shields those properties within the perimeter or in adjacent ZIP codes of the Mill Fire from insurance non-renewal or cancellation for one year from the date of the Governor’s September 2nd declaration regardless of whether they suffered a loss. This comes a month after Commissioner Lara took similar action to protect Siskiyou County residents affected by the McKinney and China 2 fires.
“As wildfire emergencies have continued to threaten Siskiyou County, I am taking action to protect residents’ insurance coverage and give them peace of mind,” said Commissioner Lara. “My action is critical to protect consumers and their homes and I will continue to enforce the law as I keep implementing long-term solutions to make our communities safer from wildfires.”
Commissioner Lara’s ability to issue moratoriums is a result of a California law that he authored in 2018 while serving as state senator in order to provide temporary relief from insurance non-renewals and cancellations to residents living within or adjacent to a governor-declared wildfire disaster.
Today’s moratorium order includes seven ZIP codes, bringing the total number of Siskiyou County policyholders under protection to an estimated 14,890. Commissioner Lara previously protected homeowners’ insurance coverage for Siskiyou County residents following gubernatorial-declared wildfire emergencies in 2020 and 2021.
Consumers can go to theDepartment of Insurance website to see if their ZIP code is included in the moratorium. Consumers should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or via chat or email at insurance.ca.gov if they believe their insurance company is in violation of this law, or have additional claims-related questions.
The Commissioner’s action is part of a larger solution he is pursuing for consumers and wildfire survivors that includes working to increase insurance protections and market competition to help protect consumers. Commissioner Lara’s actions since taking office in 2019 include:
- Announced “Safer from Wildfires,” a new insurance framework that incorporates wildfire safety measures to help save lives while making homes and businesses more resilient. Safer from Wildfires was created by a first-ever partnership between the Department of Insurance and the emergency and preparedness agencies in Governor Newsom’s Administration, including the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the California Public Utilities Commission.
- Proposed new regulations to incorporate Safer from Wildfires in insurance pricing, driving down costs for consumers who have taken actions to protect their communities while increasing transparency about their home’s or business’s “wildfire risk score.” This regulation is in its final step towards adoption.
- Sponsored new insurance protections signed into law by Governor Newsom — despite opposition from insurance companies — that will mean larger payouts for some consumer claims, less red tape from insurance companies, and more help for people under evacuation orders.
- Ordered the FAIR Plan, the state’s insurer of last resort, to offer a more comprehensive homeowners policy as an option, which a judge recently upheld, as well as increasing residential and commercial coverage limits for the first time in 25 years to keep pace with inflation and rising costs.
Following Governor Newsom’s state of emergency declaration, the Department of Insurance partners with CAL FIRE and CalOES, pursuant to existing statute, to identify wildfire perimeters for mandatory moratorium areas. The Department of Insurance will continue to collaborate with CAL FIRE and CalOES to identify additional wildfire perimeters for any fires where there is a declaration of a state of emergency.
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- The mandatory one-year moratorium announced today covers approximately 9,200 residential policies in ZIP codes located within or adjacent to the Mill Fire under Senate Bill 824 (Lara, Chapter 616, Statutes of 2018), also known as the “Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act.”
- On September 2, 2022, Governor Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in Siskiyou County due to the Mill Fire.
- While existing law prevents non-renewals and cancellations for those who suffer a total loss in areas subject to a declared disaster, the 2018 law established protection for those living within or adjacent to a declared wildfire emergency whether they suffer a loss or not — recognizing for the first time in law the disruption that non-renewals cause in communities following wildfire disasters. Homeowners who suffered a total property loss have up to 24 months of protection from non-renewal or cancellation.
- Consumers can go to the Department of Insurance website to find the Commissioner’s Bulletin to see if their ZIP code is included in this moratorium.
Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.