Wildfire risk increases, home insurance hard to find

CBS47 Investigates

Sierra and Foothill residents tell CBS47 they are starting to receive cancellation notices from their insurance company.

John Walker, who owns a vacation home in Wawona says, “We got a notice, it’s just difficult. I tried to check here and everywhere, I just couldn’t find anybody to help us out with homeowner insurance.”

And he is not alone.

Oakhurst resident Rick Estrada says, “It more than doubled. It went from $2,000 plus to $6,000 a year.”

Estrada couldn’t believe it.

He says the insurance company he’s been with for years didn’t drop him.

But it tripled in price.

Estrada says, “Then you go to do some preventive maintenance. You got to cut all you shrub and trees and that’s an added cost too.”

As more and deadlier wildfires sweep through California, insurance companies are taking a closer look at their bottom line.

Many are reevaluating the chances of yet another Paradise, California becoming a reality.

The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with more than 8,500 fires.

In just 3 wildfires all in Central California, there was more than $9 billion in damages, resulting from more than 28,500 claims, according to an estimate from the California Insurance Commissioners office.

If you can’t find insurance what can you do?

Tony Cignarale with the California Insurance Commission office says, “We can put them in touch through our tools we have on our website, with multiple insurance companies that they may not be familiar with.”

Cignarale says people should contact the hotline at 1-800-927-4357.

State officials say there’s also the California Fair Access plan.

Cignarale says, “Which is an insurance system set up for people unable to get insurance through the traditional market. They are able to get insurance that covers fire and other hazards, and they are guaranteed to get that coverage.”

Since 2014, more than 15,000 homes in medium or extreme fire risk area have used it.

Cignarale says the issue will likely get worse, as scientist expect wildfire danger to increase as the climate changes.

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