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County Leaders Seek Solutions as Pasadena Homeowners Face Skyrocketing Home Insurance Premiums

Published on Friday, March 1, 2024 | 6:11 am

After receiving a report that some home insurance premiums in Pasadena have risen by a staggering 600 percent, County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Lindsey P. Horvath filed a motion on aiming to address the challenges that homeowners face in securing fire insurance. 

In the Tuesday motion, Barger and Horvath said stabilizing the fire insurance market is crucial due to various challenges that the state is facing – including a housing shortage, climate impacts like increased fire danger, and limited insurance options. 

The supervisors also said recent legislation aimed at addressing these issues has revealed disparities between intentions and outcomes; they cited Assembly Bill 3074 which mandates the removal of flammable materials near structures to mitigate fire risk. 

“Despite the passage of this law by the state legislature, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has not yet defined AB  3074’s implementation requirements and it is unclear when a final determination will be made,” Barger and Horvath said in the motion. “To further complicate matters, the escalating severity of wildfires plaguing the State of California has also prompted insurance providers to adopt more conservative  approaches: limiting or outright ceasing the issuance of new home insurance policies and applying additional fire mitigation requirements as a condition of being insured.” 

Because of the situation, the supervisors said many homeowners have been forced to rely on expensive options, such as the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. 

“The FAIR Plan is one of the most expensive options available to residents of California and Los Angeles County,” the motion said. “This is especially challenging financially  for disadvantaged communities, as well as seniors and others on fixed incomes. While the establishment of mitigation and buffer zones directly adjacent to a structure are deemed essential to safety, these additional mandates are leading to a situation of rapidly escalating financial burdens for homeowners who are already grappling with  increased costs of inflation.” 

To address these concerns, Barger and Horvath said authorities must support legislation stabilizing the fire insurance market, consider local input in implementing AB 3074, and investigate compliance measures imposed by insurance companies. 

The motion directs the county’s interim Chief Executive Officer to consult with the Los Angeles County Fire Chief and communicate with the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and the State Insurance Commissioner to call for action on these issues. 

“Homeowners are facing uncertainty and are increasingly being forced to try to navigate an insurance market in crisis,” the motion said. “It is paramount that the County work directly with the State to protect homeowners facing a daunting financial challenge, while trying to ensure they have basic insurance coverage in the face of changing climate patterns that have rapidly increased the risks of wildfires they face.” 

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