Wildfires are sending Oregon homeowners insurance rates skyward

Homeowners Insurance rates rising in Oregon - Wildfires

State residents are seeing fewer options, reducing competition in that market

Property owners in Oregon are increasingly discovering that they have very few homeowners insurance options, and this marketplace situation is causing premiums to head much higher every year.

Many insurers have chosen not to write any new policies in the state

Due to the situation in the state’s market, many property owners in the eastern, southern and central parts of Oregon have watched their homeowners insurance coverage become decreasingly affordable or have had their policies canceled at renewal time.

Homeowners Insurance costs rising - forest fire

The trend took off following the 2020 Labor Day Fires, which burned through 4,000 homes, becoming the most financially costly natural disaster Oregon had ever experienced, according to the federal and state emergency response agencies.

A growing US homeowners insurance trend

Since that time in 2020, parts of Oregon have been experiencing the same trends as property owners have been experiencing in states such as Florida, California, and Louisiana, where the largest insurers are no longer writing or renewing policies, and where many consumers have had to fall back on the insurers of last resort, which charge much higher premiums.

Agents have noted that while it was once highly uncommon for a property to be considered a very high wildfire risk to the point that they would not be able to find homeowners insurance coverage, this has become extremely commonplace in many parts of Oregon nowadays.

The state commissioner

According to Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi, the trend of insurers withdrawing from the state isn’t as extreme as is the case in California and Florida, for instance, but it is becoming problematic.

Lawmakers in Oregon have been seeing bills to encourage homeowners insurance companies to offer customers incentives to harden their communities and homes against wildfires. However, the impact of those initiatives has been minimal so far.

Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) has proposed a number of the wildfire hardening recommendations, and according to fire and industry experts, clearing vegetation and investing in fire resistant siding and roofs to boost community resiliency are the only way to encourage insurers to return to wildfire-prone parts of the state and keep premiums under control.

SB 1511

In the current session, Golden has proposed SB 1511, to form a $5 million, one-time grant program to support residents of the state in building neighborhood protection groups aimed at creating and upholding defensible space around structures and to clear debris from yards.

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