(PLACERVILLE, CA) -- California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara met with El Dorado County officials yesterday to discuss his efforts to help residents facing homeowner policy cancelation, nonrenewal notices and premium increases. Acknowledging the recent rash of El Dorado County residents experiencing this challenge, Lara laid out a plan to help homeowners have access to affordable policies they need in times of disaster.
“This meeting was a positive first step in helping Commissioner Lara understand the challenges in El Dorado County and establish a relationship with him and his staff to help meet our residents’ needs,” said District III Supervisor Brian Veerkamp. “We also explained how our recently-enacted vegetation management ordinance dovetails into his belief that pre-disaster prevention and mitigation is a key component to this issue and the impact unavailable coverage has not only on homeowners but also our economy and our government’s ability to provide needed services to our residents.”
The visit comes in response to a
letter sent to the Commissioner by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on July 25th seeking assistance with the lack of available and affordable fire insurance for residents living in fire-prone areas. “We’re pleased that Commissioner Lara understands our County’s issue and heard our suggestions for legislative and regulatory solutions that will bring parity to how insurance carriers assess risk and that they take into account vegetation management and defensible space efforts made by homeowners,” said District I Supervisor John Hidahl.
Lara shared his outline for a comprehensive outreach program that included forming a task force to help define community-wide fire mitigation efforts, committed to sending strike teams to El Dorado County to help affected residents connect to available resources and assist local government with assessing and responding to insurance issues and holding a series of town hall meetings to directly communicate with residents.
He also encouraged residents to call the California Department of Insurance’s toll-free hotline at 800-927-4357 with any questions and for help with investigation into nonrenewals for compliance with laws, noting that it is a live, staff-supported service rather than a recorded line.
Lara told El Dorado County officials he is advocating for new legislation that would require insurance carriers to renew policies for homes that have been hardened against wildfire and are located within a “wildfire mitigated” community. The broader concern for wildfire mitigation efforts on public lands was also a point of discussion, since so much of El Dorado County land owned by state and federal government is adjacent to private landowners.
Lara also informed meeting attendees that he is advocating for an increase to policy limits under the California FAIR Plan and is seeking to require insurers to provide a 180-day notification period prior to cancelation or nonrenewal in addition to the currently-required 45 days and that he has already issued notices to insurers to make sure claims are handled fairly and in a timely manner.
“We will work with the Commissioner’s staff to schedule town hall meetings and provide that information to residents as soon as possible,” said Veerkamp. “In the meantime, we encourage everyone to visit our homepage at
www.edcgov.us for more information about homeowners insurance and
www.edcgov.us/Government/CAO/VegetationManagement for information about our vegetation management ordinance and defensible space.”
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