On Wednesday, August 7th, Supervisors Miller and Scofield, County Executive Officer Alison Lehman, Information and General Services Director Steve Monaghan and County staff met with California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and his staff to talk about homeowner fire insurance renewal issues specific to Nevada County. Lara said that complaints to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) related to non-renewals are up nearly 600% since 2010 in areas with increased wildfire risk.
"The availability and affordability of Homeowners Fire Insurance has hit our community hard," said County Executive Officer Alison Lehman. "Too many residents have lost their insurance, are at risk of losing their insurance, or may be unable to afford insurance with dramatic increases in premiums. Through lobbying efforts the Board of Supervisors have successfully elevated these issues to the California State Insurance Commissioner. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara met with County officials this week to better understand local impacts as well as discuss resources that are available to residents."
In May, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved and sent a Letter of Concern to Insurance Commissioner Lara. The letter outlined the potential severity of the issue with approximately 76% of homeowner's properties being located in elevated and extreme wildfire danger areas. Supervisor Scofield and Senior Administrative Analyst Jeffrey Thorsby were recently members of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Resiliency Advisory Board workgroup to advocate and advance resiliency policies that address prevention, response and recovery for crisis and catastrophic events, including wildfire.
Starting this month, CDI is dispatching a Strike Team to areas affected by non-renewals and insurance availability. CDI staff will work with residents to connect them with resources and assist local governments in responding to insurance issues.
"We credit Commissioner Lara for taking multiple actions in responding to this crisis including proposing legislation, dispatching a Strike Team to areas affected by non-renewal and lack of insurance availability, and setting up a consumer hotline to respond to consumer questions and investigate non-renewals for compliance with laws," added Lehman. "The County is looking forward to hosting a Town Hall Meeting with Commissioner Lara later this month to facilitate a community conversation on this important issue."
In addition to providing tips for finding residential insurance online, residents can speak to a CDI representative directly by calling 1-800-927-4357.