Michael Smolens, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
California is so concerned over the future cost and availability of insurance it’s calling in the United Nations for help.
Recent reports detail how homeowner insurance policies in regions prone to wildfire are being canceled or becoming significantly more expensive.
Developments planned for high-risk fire zones are not only being challenged politically and legally over whether they diminish the quality of life for people living nearby but also over public safety and climate change concerns.
Eventually, homeowners in certain coastal areas are certain to have a similar, if more slow-moving, experience as sea-level rise increases flooding and erosion, making their dwellings a riskier bet for insurers. Some residents on unstable bluffs have for years faced insurance issues, in addition to the challenge of pursuing public or private efforts to shore up the cliffs.
Tens of thousands of beachfront homes across California face the risk of chronic flooding or worse, according to projections. It may be 50 to 100 years before it gets that bad, but property values are likely to be affected along with insurance.
This will extend beyond homeowners to businesses and, to varying degrees, governments.
At the root of the insurance challenge is climate change, which many experts say is exacerbating wildfires and flooding and making storms more destructive. Insurance companies, like governments, are increasingly stressed trying to grapple with that.