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Commissioner Lara protects more than 25,000 policyholders affected by Beckwourth Complex Fire and Lava Fire from policy non-renewal for one year

News: 2021 Press Release

For Release: August 19, 2021
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Commissioner Lara protects more than 25,000 policyholders affected by Beckwourth Complex Fire and Lava Fire from policy non-renewal for one year

LOS ANGELES — Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today issued a mandatory one-year moratorium on insurance companies from non-renewing or cancelling residential property insurance policies – the first moratorium called by Commissioner Lara thus far this year. This action helps more than 25,000 policyholders who have been affected by the devastating Lava Fire and the Beckwourth Complex Fire in the counties of Siskiyou, Plumas, and Lassen. That includes more than 20,000 consumers who were already covered under last year’s moratorium, effectively extending their protection for several more months.

“No one should have to scramble to find fire insurance after suffering the effects of a wildfire. I created this new protection after learning from wildfire survivors how some insurance companies dropped their coverage even as they worked to recover,” said Commissioner Lara. “By forbidding insurance companies from issuing non-renewals and cancellations for one year, homeowners have more time to get back on their feet. This is one part of a larger solution for consumers that includes working to increase insurance protections and increasing market competition to help protect consumers.”

The Commissioner's ability to issue moratoriums is a result of a California law he authored in 2018 while serving as state senator in order to provide temporary relief from non-renewals to residents living within or adjacent to a declared wildfire disaster.

Today’s moratorium order follows Governor Gavin Newsom's emergency declaration this year on July 16 for the Lava Fire and the Beckwourth Complex Fire, and gives insurer-initiated non-renewal protections for one year for residential property insurance policies in ZIP codes within or adjacent to the fire perimeter. Consumers can go to the California Department of Insurance website to see if their ZIP Code is included in the moratorium.

This is the third consecutive year that Commissioner Lara has implemented the moratorium law. After the record setting wildfires of 2020, his order protected more than 2.4 million policyholders from non-renewal or cancellation.  

“While we work toward longer-term solutions to prevent wildfires like greater mitigation and addressing the effects of climate change, wildfire survivors have immediate needs to help them recover after disaster strikes,” added Commissioner Lara on the moratorium issued today. “We will continue to work with the Governor's Office and first responders to identify areas where my additional moratoriums may be further issued to protect consumers.”

Following Governor Newsom's state of emergency declarations, the Department of Insurance partners with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (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, including Governor Newsom’s July 23, August 5, August 10, and August 17 Declarations affecting parts of Alpine, Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity counties. The Department will address these areas and corresponding ZIP codes in forthcoming bulletins once fires are sufficiently contained and necessary data is obtained to determine the fire perimeters.  

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Media notes:

  • The mandatory one-year moratorium announced today covers 25,879 residential policies in ZIP codes located within or adjacent to the Beckwourth Complex and Lava fires under Senate Bill 824 (Lara, Chapter 616, Statutes of 2018), also known as the Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act. While existing law prevents non-renewals and cancellations for those who suffer a total loss, the new law established protection for those living within or adjacent to a declared wildfire emergency who did not suffer a total loss—recognizing for the first time in law the disruption that non-renewals cause in communities following wildfire disasters.
  • 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.
  • Governor Newsom Declares State of Emergency in Lassen, Plumas and Siskiyou Counties Due to Fire (July 16, 2021).

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 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.

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