Insurance coverage

California Insurance Commissioner Lara Protects Insurance Coverage for Siskiyou County Residents Following McKinney and China 2 Fires


McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County on Friday, July 29, 2022
Credit: InciWeb

Mandatory one-year moratorium prevents home insurance cancellations and non-renewals following Governor Newsom’s July 30 declaration of emergency

August 15, 2022 – SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As wildfires in Siskiyou County continue to threaten homeowners, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today ordered insurance companies to preserve homeowners insurance coverage for 8,500 homes affected following Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision declaration of emergency. Commissioner Newsletter protects such properties within the perimeter or in the adjacent zip codes of McKinney Fire and China 2 Fire against non-renewal or cancellation of insurance for one year from the date of the Governor’s statement of July 30, qu whether or not they suffered a loss.

“Residents of Siskiyou County have experienced wildfire-related emergencies for the past three years and having their insurance protection is critical to recovery,” said Commissioner Lara. “I will continue to both enforce this law to protect consumers and work to create long-term solutions to make our communities safer from wildfires.”

Commissioner Lara’s ability to issue moratoriums is the result of a California law he wrote in 2018 when he was a state senator to provide temporary relief from insurance non-renewals and cancellations to residents living in or near a governor-declared wildfire disaster.

Today’s moratorium order includes 16 postal codes affecting approximately 8,500 residential policyholders. Nearly 50% of Siskiyou County is affected by the ordinance. ZIP codes for Del Norte and Humboldt counties are also included. Commissioner Lara previously protected homeowners insurance coverage for residents of Siskiyou County following declared wildfire emergencies in 2020 and 2021.

Consumers can go to Department of Insurance website to see if their postal code is included in the moratorium. Consumers should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or by chat or email at assurance.ca.gov if they believe their insurance company is in violation of this law or if they have additional questions regarding claims.

The commissioner’s action is part of a broader solution he is seeking for consumers and wildfire survivors, which includes efforts to increase insurance protections and market competition to help protect consumers. Commissioner Lara’s actions since taking office in 2019 include:

  • Advertised “No longer safe from wildfiresa new insurance framework that incorporates wildfire safety measures to help save lives while making homes and businesses more resilient. Safer from Wildfires was created through an early-ever partnership between the Department of Insurance and Governor Newsom’s Administration emergency and preparedness agencies, including 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 into insurance pricing, reducing costs for consumers who have taken action to protect their communities while increasing transparency on their “home or business fire risk score.”
  • New sponsored insurance coverages signed by Governor Newsom – despite opposition from insurance companies – it will mean bigger payouts for some consumer claims, less red tape from insurance companies and more help for those under orders evacuation.
  • I ordered the FAIR Planthe State’s insurer of last resort, to offer a more comprehensive home policy as an option, which a judge recently upheldas well as extending residential and commercial coverage limits for the first time in 25 years to keep pace with rising costs.

Following Governor Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency, the Department of Insurance is partnering with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), in accordance with existing status, to identify wildfire perimeters for mandatory moratorium areas. The Department of Insurance will continue to work with CAL FIRE and CalOES to identify additional wildfire perimeters for any fire where there is a declaration of a state of emergency.

Remarks:

  • The mandatory one-year moratorium announced today covers more than 8,500 residential policies in ZIP codes within or adjacent to the McKinney Fire and China Fire 2 under Senate Bill 824 (Lara, Chapter 616, statutes of 2018), also known as the “Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act”. The China 2 Fire which merged with the Evans Fire is now known as the Yeti Fire.
  • On July 30, 2022, Governor Newsom proclaimed a emergency state in Siskiyou County due to the McKinney Fire and the China 2 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 people living in or near a declared wildfire emergency, whether or not they suffer a loss – recognizing for the first time in law, the disruption that non-renewals cause in communities following disasters caused by wildfires forest. Owners who have suffered a total loss of property have up to 24 months of protection against non-renewal or cancellation.
  • Consumers can go to Department of Insurance website to find the Commissioner’s Bulletin to see if their postal code is included in this moratorium.
    Source: CA. Insurance Department