California Governor, Regulator Team Up for Wildfire Standards

California’s insurance regulator is joining with Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration in drafting standards to help protect homes and communities from wildfires.

The “hardening” standards will apply to retrofits for older existing homes, in an attempt to help owners find and keep fire coverage, the California Department of Insurance said Monday in a statement. These types of standards generally include actions such as building upgrades, defensible space and fire-resistant landscaping. The state already has wildfire building standards for new developments.

California has been hit hard by devastating wildfires in recent years, causing insurers to reevaluate covering homeowners in certain parts of the state. Non-renewals of insurance policies climbed 31% in 2019, with ZIP codes that had a “moderate to very high fire risk” seeing an even bigger increase, the regulator said last year.

“With home and community hardening standards in place, Californians can hope to save lives and property through safer homes and increase insurance availability,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in the statement. “Our insurance market is responding to higher wildfire risk, so safeguarding homes will assist consumers in finding and keeping their insurance.”

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