California Homeowners Feel Burned As Companies Drop Insurance
EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — Wildfires burning across California are costing billions in damage and the extreme losses are prompting insurance companies to drop customers.
"It cancels after our policy, which is Oct. 31, and I found out about three weeks ago," Debora Wilson said.
Debora and her husband Wayne swiftly packed up under mandatory evacuation orders on Tuesday and loaded their horses to escape the Sliger Fire raging nearby. They live in the small town of Greenwood and has been the couple's home for decades. Not only is the thought of losing their house devastating, but now they're losing their insurance.
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"What's aggravating to me is not only have I been dropped by the company that I've been with for over a quarter of a century, but there's nobody else available to do it," she said. No insurance companies she called would write her a policy.
California's Insurance Commissioner says claims for just the Carr and Mendocino fires this year total more than $800 million. Between those fires and the $12 billion paid out in 2017, insurance companies to make drastic changes.
So what are your options without fire coverage?
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"We know it's a wide open market and there are places to get coverage," said Nancy Kincaid with the California Department of Insurance.
She says to contact her office and local brokers.
"If you need coverage that you cannot find there, you can get the FAIR Plan," she said. "The FAIR Plan is the insurer of last resort."
It covers fire damage, but you would still need to get homeowner's protection. But with that comes high rates, leaving families in the foothills without of options.
"I know several people who are going uninsured and just hoping for the best and you know if you can't get somebody to write you don't have any options, you just don't," Debora said.
She adds, they can't sell their home either because without insurance buyers couldn't get a mortgage and if their home burns down they may lose everything.
"I don't know what people are doing, it's just a real problem," she said.
There's some wildfire legislation that passed this year and is on the governor's desk that lawmakers say will hopefully bring some relief.
If you have been dropped by your insurance company, contact the California Department of Insurance.
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