Insurance companies must boost wildfire preparedness, says California commissioner

Wildfire preparedness - firefighter and scorched home

Ricardo Lara has called on property insurers to play a role in assisting homes and businesses in readiness.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has called for property insurers across the state to play a larger role in boosting wildfire preparedness among homeowners and businesses.

The goal is to create improved widespread readiness as the fire risk season approaches this year.

At the end of last week, Lara gave an update on the actions that California communities are taking to help promote wildfire preparedness among state residents. He spoke during a media briefing and was joined by homeowners and first responders for Wildfire Awareness Month.

Wildfires have been making California homeowners insurance and business insurance headlines for years as they become more frequent and extreme during the state’s hot and dry months. Lara pointed out that state Governor Gavin Newsom’s drought declaration has now reached 41 counties in which 31 percent of the state’s residents live. This suggests that the fire season this year has the potential to be a severe one.

Therefore, Lara is urging California insurance companies to assist with wildfire preparedness efforts.

“This year, we have the conditions for, unfortunately, another difficult fire season,” said Lara. He went on to discuss the efforts communities are making to provide homeowners and businesses in taking the steps needed to protect their homes and neighborhoods against the risk of a blaze.

Lara also called for insurers in the state to provide more wildfire mitigation incentives. He spotlighted eight insurance companies in the state and the California FAIR Plan which offer discounts to policyholders that have taken adequate steps to harden homes and mitigate wildfire risk. Those insurers offering discounts are, according to the California Department of Insurance: California Automobile Insurance Co., USAA Group, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Co., American Modern Home Insurance Co., ASI Select Insurance Corpo., The Cincinnati Insurance Co., Wawanesa General Insurance Co. and Occidental Fire & Casualty Company of North Carolina.

Wildfire preparedness - firefighter and scorched homeThat said, this group represents only 13 percent of the state market, and he is hoping that the figure will rise significantly this year.

“So, there’s a lot more room to grow,” said Lara about the potential for California insurance companies to support wildfire preparedness and incentivise risk mitigation.

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