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KPBS Midday Edition

CA Insurance Commissioner Seeks Public Input On Wildfire Coverage

A gutted remnant of home in Alpine off Japatul Valley Road burned in Valley Fire in this photo taken Sept. 8, 2020.
Matt Hoffman
A gutted remnant of home in Alpine off Japatul Valley Road burned in Valley Fire in this photo taken Sept. 8, 2020.
More than 6 thousand buildings have been destroyed in the wildfires around California so far this summer. Some homeowners have discovered that it is no longer possible to get insurance for their homes at a rate they can afford. California’s Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is calling for the public’s input at a hearing next month that will look at how to stabilize the insurance industry while protecting lives and property.

The wildfires of 2020 and the failure of two state Assembly bills have left many California homeowners without home insurance coverage.

AB 2367 would have mandated that insurers offer coverage to homeowners who have taken steps to “harden homes” against wildfires.

AB 1659 would have raised $2.5 billion for wildfire needs, including “home hardening.

California's Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, is looking into how he can use the regulatory power of his office to protect residents in areas vulnerable to wildfire. Lara is concentrating on

• The development of home-hardening standards

• Giving information to consumers about their wildfire risk score and what they can do to reduce it.

• Creating insurance incentives for home hardening and community mitigation

• Requiring that insurance companies seek adequate and justifiable rates to protect the solvency of the market.

He will begin the process on Monday, October 19, with a public hearing to gather input from residents and insurers.

Lara talked with KPBS Midday Edition about the needs of homeowners and insurers in the country's largest insurance market, the October hearing, and plans for future legislation.