Tyler Silvy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Monday announced an effort to establish home-hardening standards that could protect participating homeowners from canceled policies and soaring rates while providing a mechanism to encourage fire-safe retrofits that could save lives and property.
The effort, which will begin this month with meetings between state insurance, utilities, emergency and forestry leaders, will face a tight timeline, as it comes amid deepening worries over home insurance costs and availability in wildfire-prone areas of the state, where wildfire losses continue to mount.
“The commissioner’s goal is that there’s no time to waste on this,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Michael Soller said in an interview Monday. “He would like to see standards be in place this year that insurance companies can start using to identify incentives for people, and that local governments can use to help guide some of their planning decisions and investments they’re making.”
The parameters of the statewide initiative have not been worked out, but officials say any move to implement uniform statewide standards for homeowners would likely be coupled with concessions and incentives from insurance companies, as well as new streams of state funding to offset home retrofit costs.