California’s firefighters can’t get fire insurance

“We can’t get fire insurance at a fire station that’s going to be manned by firefighters,” one state lawmaker said in incredulity.

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SACRAMENTO, California — How bad is California’s wildfire insurance crisis? So bad that the state can’t get coverage for its own firehouses.

CalFire

The irony emerged at a state Senate budget subcommittee hearing Thursday in Sacramento, where Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration defended the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s request for $11 million to replace a kitchen at Ishi Conservation Camp, which houses and trains inmate firefighters in the remote Sierra Nevada foothills of Tehama County.

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Cal Fire usually pays for building maintenance with bonds based on the value of its property, but it couldn’t for the Ishi project because it couldn’t insure the facility to underwriters’ satisfaction, Finance Department analyst Victor Lopez told lawmakers.

“The insurance industry, they weren’t interested in selling insurance policies in the region due to the perceived fire risk in the area,” Lopez said. And the insurer of last resort, FAIR Plan, doesn’t meet the bond underwriters’ requirements, either, he added.

State senators from both parties were incredulous.

“We can’t get fire insurance at a fire station that’s going to be manned by firefighters,” said state Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican from Lassen County, in the northeast corner of the state. “That’s where we are in California. That to me is crazy.”

Add Cal Fire to the growing list of constituents putting pressure on lawmakers to do something to stop property insurers’ exodus, which makes headlines daily as companies announce policy non-renewals or moratoriums on new coverage.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara agreed last year to let insurers raise rates and base them on future projections of fire damages, after lawmakers punted the decision to his office. Lara has been duly handing out rate increases, but insurers are still leaving: In the past two months alone, American National announced it would leave the state and State Farm said it would drop tens of thousands of homeowners.

State Sen. Josh Becker, a Democrat from Silicon Valley, highlighted his bill to require insurance companies to give property owners more credit for things like installing fire-resistant roofs and building fire breaks. (Insurance companies oppose it, saying it could force them to take on too much risk.)

“It’s ironic and highlights the problem we’re trying to solve,” he said about Cal Fire’s insurance woes. “We’re just trying to get recognition for the direct fire mitigation on the ground.”

Ishi might be the tip of an iceberg.

Mike McGinness, Department of Finance’s deputy director responsible for Cal Fire, said he only knew of one other Cal Fire facility that has had a similar problem so far. But the Department of General Services, which oversees all state facilities, has identified 16 projects statewide — 11 of which are Cal Fire’s — that may have trouble getting fire insurance, spokesperson Monica Hassan said in an email.

Cal Fire and the Department of Finance are now reviewing all the maintenance and upgrade projects seeking funds this year to figure out if others might struggle to get fire insurance, too, McGinness said.

“Typically, this hasn’t been an issue and so we have waited until closer to the point of selling the bonds,” he said. “But given recent trends in the insurance industry, it’s been important to start looking.”

So far, lawmakers have defended Cal Fire’s increasing drain on state coffers, even in a down budget year, as Newsom adds firefighters to cut back flammable vegetation and protect communities from increasingly intense wildfires.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Comments

  1. This is the growing problem of stupid decisions made years ago. Years ago you morons decisions to kill logging in our forest in the name of the environment. You decided not to log the dead trees from the bark beetle. Well you created this mess with lack of forest management. Now your reaping what you sown. You can blame climate change all you want. But in the end it’s was your liberal stupidity that created this problem.

  2. Adriana Peacock says

    More clown world

  3. When one looks at all the ways Newsom and the liberal/woke group, including the environmentalist, have systematically destroyed the state that person must recognize the design that is working. For California to survive will require cuts in all budgets. That will hurt all. To support this group is to wish the decline and fall of the state to a third world status. Are you one of those??

  4. Burn… Back… Better…

    -One thing all these fires (arson is now being called wildfires) have in common is that as soon as CalFire can, it puts that area on the California Wildfire Map. Even if there was never a fire in that location in history and the cause of fire is still unknown and in many cases arson… How can the public push back on being force reported on that California Wildfire Map?

    -How close is that map matching up to the enviro extremeist Rewilding Maps?

    -Once on that CA Wildfire Map, insurance companies are notified and they kick in thier process to start instituting demands like photos of your property expensive and extensivley cleared out. No trees or decorative bushes near your home. Drones are also used to take photos…

    -Condo owners are not exempt to these demands (even though the insurance is covering only interior walls and the HOA’s cover exterior property! If you can’t comply they drop you. In some cases after making demands every rewal period they just announce they are discontinuing service inside certain zip codeseven if those zip codes are in an urban city or semi rural route…

    If they drop you and you can not get a new insurance carrier, the insurance co. dropping you refers you to… drumroll… Fascism! The takeover of our insurance industry…. State Run Insurance programs… with a very, very expensive rider to make up the difference for lack of what the state won’t provide… or your mortgage is called and you pay up or loose your private property, your CA dream…

    This is what is called Burn Back Better… Same scenario happening all over the western world. This happened to us. Thank God we found new insurance for the time being.

  5. Cal Richards says

    What’s not mentioned here is that PG&E played a big role in the insurance problems in California. Over the years they have asked their PUC lapdogs for rate increases for safety upgrades and maintenance, took that money and rolled it into upper management bonuses and stock holder dividends. After they got caught only then did things change but not after killing many people and causing billions in damages.

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