I.I.I. RADIO SATELLITE MEDIA TOUR: CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

It’s getting harder for California homeowners in fire-prone areas to buy and keep insurance.

Homeowners insurance non-renewals were on many listeners’ minds during last week’s Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) radio satellite media tour (SMT) on the aftermath of the 2017-18 California wildfires.

With 20 media outlets throughout the state participating, I.I.I. CEO Sean Kevelighan, Head of Media and Public Affairs Michael Barry, and Director of Strategic Communications Janet Ruiz were on hand to answer questions from journalists.

As the frequency and cost of California wildfires increase, it’s getting harder for homeowners in fire-prone areas to buy and keep insurance. In August 2019, the California Department of Insurance released data showing insurers are non-renewing an increasing number of residents in areas with high wildfire risk.

The guidance the I.I.I. provided to Californians faced with this dilemma included:

  • If your insurer says they won’t renew your policy, ask them to reconsider. Your situation may involve factors they don’t know about.
  • Try another insurer. The insurance market is competitive, and insurers don’t profit from not writing business. Risk appetites and underwriting vary.
  • When all else fails, California’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan is available as an insurer of last resort, after “a diligent effort to obtain coverage in the voluntary market has been made.”

The I.I.I.’s speakers also emphasized during the SMT that property owners can make their homes more resilient to wildfires by mitigating their own risks; how California’s insurers disbursed nearly $25 billion to their customers to help them recover financially from the 2017-18 wildfires; and how state regulators are working with insurers to price accurately the risks of covering homes in wildfire-prone communities.

Within hours of I.I.I.’s SMT, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced mandatory protections from insurance non-renewals extending into new areas of Northern and Southern California. The one-year moratorium covers residential policies in ZIP codes adjacent to recent wildfire disasters. The law cited by Commissioner Lara (Senate Bill 824) protects homeowners adjacent to a declared wildfire emergency who didn’t suffer a total loss — recognizing the disruption non-renewals cause in communities after wildfire disasters.

Below is a list of the participating radio stations and podcasters who taped the I.I.I. conversations for either broadcast or streaming in January 2020:

KCAA 1050-AM/KRLA 870-AM/KSPA 1510-AM Los Angeles/KDIA 1640-AM/KFAX 1100-AM Radio San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose “Bill Martinez Live”

Business Radio X-IND Podcast National, “The Mark Bishop Podcast”

KOCI 101.5-FM Los Angeles/Liberty Express Radio Network-AM/FM Radio Syndicated “School for Startups”

KSZL 1230-AM Radio Los Angeles “America Tonight with Kate Delaney”

KMET 1490-AM Los Angeles – KEST 1450-AM Radio San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, “Talk! With Audrey”

Transformation Talk Radio-Online Podcast National, “The Dr. Pat Show”

KVTA 1590-AM Radio Los Angeles, “The Kim Pagano Show”

KSTE 650-AM Radio Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, “The Chad Benson Show”