Insurance companies must encourage Marin’s work-from-home hardening – Marin Independent Journal

It might be considered smart business for insurance companies to regularly reassess the risks they take.

This is what happened following the destructive forest fires of recent years.

Homeowners discover that due to their proximity to possible wildfires, their insurance companies are no longer interested in doing business with them.

A growing number of Marin property owners find themselves in this dilemma; not only losing sometimes old coverage, but having trouble finding insurers willing to take them on, often with increased rates.

Rising rates are more common at Marin than non-renewing policies.

The dilemma escalated so much that Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara in September declared a one-year moratorium on the non-renewal of insurance coverage in high-fire risk areas of the state.

Lara’s order is an acknowledgment of the importance of property insurance in home sales. It also underscores that insurance companies doing business in our state should not be allowed to “pick and choose areas” where the threat of loss might be considered minimal. They should be able to prove to state regulators that they are not redlining areas due to risk.

For many, coverage from the California FAIR Plan Association, a consortium of California insurance companies, is the only coverage they can get, albeit as a last resort and often with significantly increased costs and coverage caps. lower.

Insurance companies must also take into account the security measures taken by owners and communities in general.

Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber says these measures should be an important consideration.

“We don’t think insurance companies should rip them off, especially if they’re following defensible space codes,” he said.

It also means that public owners of open space need to do more in terms of common sense fire safety maintenance of such land, particularly where such areas interface with residential areas.

The fact that Marin residents have been willing to step up to bolster local fire safety as well as pay local fire crews should be factored into the insurance companies equation to determine risk.

Following the destructive Oakland Hills wildfire in 1991, fire safety measures taken by municipalities in Marin helped make a difference in keeping insurers interested in covering local homeowners. However, the threat has increased in recent years.

Marin MP Marc Levine has drafted legislation that would make the implementation of fire safety measures a factor in decisions and renewal rates. His bills did not get the support needed to move forward. Levine, who is running against fellow Democrat Lara for insurance commissioner, plans to reintroduce those bills.

The goal that should be shared by insurers and their customers is to incentivize homeowners to make and maintain improvements in fire safety.

The insurance dilemma facing Californians will certainly be part of the debate between Levine and Lara. It should be.

Kristan F. Talley