As wildfire risk increases in Colorado and the West, home insurance grows harder to find

02 January 2019

Published by

USA – BOULDER — A few months after Chris Cook and his family moved from California into a four-bedroom house nestled among ponderosa pines in the foothills here, they received a letter saying their home insurance policy had been canceled.

The insurer, Allstate, had concluded — after an assessor visited the property — that the house was too likely to be destroyed by a wildfire. Cook, a tech executive and recent transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, said his reaction was something like, “Wait, what?!”

Mortgage companies require homes to be insured, so the cancellation put Cook’s financing at risk. He worried that getting another major insurer to sign off on the home would be more challenging after one had turned him down.

He’s not alone. As more and deadlier fires sweep through Western states, it’s becoming harder to get home insurance on a property surrounded by forest, reachable only by backroads, or on slopes where a wildfire is likely to run.

While most homeowners in fire-prone places can still get policies, insurers often make coverage conditional on homeowners managing trees and undergrowth. And some might get denied by several insurers before finding one willing to take on the risk.

States and counties are beginning to step up their efforts to help homeowners make their properties as safe as possible.

The challenge is most acute in California, where catastrophic wildfires in 2018 caused more than $9 billion in losses to insured property, according to the state Department of Insurance. The Camp Fire that blazed through the town of Paradise and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes drove a small, local insurer into insolvency.

California’s insurance department doesn’t have hard numbers on how many homes have been denied insurance because companies aren’t required to report that information, said press secretary Nancy Kincaid.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien