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San Diego County backs state in battle for homeowners insurance

On Tuesday, the supervisors unanimously approved a resolution opposing decisions by insurance companies to drop coverage for tens of thousands of customers in California.

Bill Cavanaugh is a general contractor in San Diego, and when it comes to fire mitigation, he’s checking all the boxes.

"Adding fire hydrants, adding fire sprinklers, upsizing water meters, clearing your land, all your homes have to be vented. It adds tens of thousands of dollars to new construction," Cavanaugh said. "But the chance of these things getting caught in a fire are pretty slim because of all the measures we have taken."  

Despite efforts, Cavanaugh is one of thousands of customers who are unable to get full insurance coverage for their homes.


"It adds salt to the wound," he said. "When you can't get insurance specifically for fire even when you've taken all these measures."  

He’s had multiple projects placed on hold because the owners are unable to get insurance. He said this would begin a ripple effect on the housing crisis and the economy.

"If you slow down the housing starts ... general contractors aren't making money, subcontractors aren't making money, suppliers aren't making money, the restaurants that feed the construction workers aren't getting money," he said. "The ripple effect, I think, is going to be devastating."   

It's also complicated for older homes and older homeowners.

"For older adults on fixed incomes, finding new coverage can be confusing. It's financially crippling or even impossible. It jeopardizes their ability to stay in their home, preserve their life savings, and threatens loss of something they've worked their life to preserve," said Bob Prath with AARP.    


County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is trying to take some action as the state’s insurance commissioner attempts to negotiate and stabilize the insurance marketplace.

"Our ability to locally affect change on this issue is limited. The state's insurance system is broken, and there is difficult work ahead," Lawson-Remer said.

She presented a resolution during Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting to oppose large companies' cancellation of insurance policies. It passed unanimously, and while it won’t bring any immediate change, she said it symbolizes the support from San Diego County as the state tries to modernize the insurance system.

The resolution will include a letter to the governor and the insurance commissioner detailing the urgency of the matter.

Negotiations between the commissioner and the insurance companies are expected to last until the end of this year.

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