New "Safer From Fire" Insurance Framework
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara recently released a new framework called “Safer from Wildfires,” designed to improve fire safety and reduce losses. As fire season grows longer in the state and as wildfires increase in intensity, California residents in fire-prone areas are having a harder time obtaining and affording insurance for their homes. The goals of the the new framework are to save lives, hold down fire insurance premiums, and make coverage available in more areas.
The framework lists steps that homeowners can take to safeguard their homes from fire, as well as preventive actions that local governments and community groups can take. These suggestions draw on best practices compiled by Cal Fire (California’s state firefighting agency), United Policyholders (a consumer group), the Insurance Institute for Business & Homes Safety, and others. They include actions such as installing a roof rated Class A for fire resistance; creating a 5-foot-wide zone around the house that resists burning embers, such as by laying down gravel or stone walkways instead of plantings; blocking the entry of burning embers by covering vent openings with fire-resistant metal screens; and installing double-paned windows for fire-resistant shutters.
Currently, 13 insurers who cover 40 percent of the market in the state are offering discounts to homeowners who have made fire-related safety improvements or to who live in communities that have done so. Lara said that his office is weighing regulations that could require more insurers to follow suit. The new framework could potentially serve as a benchmark for determining who qualifies for lower rates.
For more information, read the report.