California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has ordered insurance companies to preserve residential insurance coverage for more than 325,000 policyholders who have been impacted by Northern California wildfires in 22 counties.
The order protects those living within the perimeter or adjoining ZIP code of a declared wildfire disaster regardless of whether they suffered a loss, the California Department of Insurance said. The order includes the Dixie, Caldor, River, Tamarack, Antelope, McFarland, Monument, Fly, and Cache wildfires.
Lara’s ability to issue moratoriums is a result of a law he authored in 2018 while serving as a state senator. The law provides temporary relief from non-renewals to residents living within or adjacent to a declared wildfire disaster.
“Climate change-fueled wildfires continue to devastate homeowners and communities,” Lara said. “My moratorium orders help provide short-term relief as we address the root causes of these ever-intensifying natural disasters. This California law empowers my office to give people the breathing room they desperately need as they recover. I will both continue to enforce this law to protect consumers and continue working to create long-term solutions.”
The moratorium order follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s six emergency declarations this summer. It protects insureds from insurance company-initiated non-renewals for one year for residential property insurance policies in ZIP codes within or adjacent to the fire perimeter. Customers’ year of protection starts from the date of the emergency declaration that included the fire that affected them.
The current order protects 325,000 policyholders and comes after an order protecting an additional 25,000 policyholders impacted by the July 23 wildfire emergency in Lassen, Plumas and Siskiyou counties.
“Protecting consumers is job one,” Lara said. “I am using every tool possible to protect consumers in the wake of climate change-intensified natural disasters and to stop bigger losses.”