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“As Wildfires Rage, California Presses Insurers to Cut Rates”

“But the changes could backfire, experts say, pushing more insurers to stop offering coverage in areas where fire risk is rising because of climate change.”

“Faced with the twin climate crises of historic wildfires and spiraling insurance costs, California on Wednesday laid out new rules to make insurance more affordable in fire-prone areas. But the changes could backfire, experts say — pushing insurers to stop offering insurance in those areas and further imperiling communities on the front lines of climate change.

The changes are the latest round in the struggle between California regulators and the insurance industry, which has experienced huge losses starting with the wildfires of 2017 and 2018. In response, insurers have begun refusing to write new coverage for homes in fire-prone areas and dropping existing customers, leaving private insurance hard to get in some places.

That battle has made California into a test case for the financial dangers of climate change, and the political fights that can result. Losing access to private insurance can be devastating, hurting home values and making the homes harder to sell. The state has a high-risk pool for people who can’t get regular insurance, but costs are higher and coverage is limited.”

Christopher Flavelle reports for the New York Times September 16, 2020.