Two consecutive disastrous wildfire seasons have created a budding insurance crisis for thousands of Californians who live in and around fire-prone areas. Stung by $24 billion in losses, insurers are imposing rate hikes or dumping customers altogether, leaving homeowners to seek replacement policies that can be two or three times as expensive.
Jennifer Burt knows she lives in a fire-prone community. That’s why she’s done everything she can to fire-proof her home in Meadow Vista, in the bushy, densely wooded Placer County foothills, even installing a sprinkler system on the roof.
Yet a few weeks ago, her insurance carrier — Lloyd’s of London, known for insuring high-risk properties — told her it was declining to renew her homeowners’ policy. Lloyd’s also dropped coverage on two rental properties Burt owns in Graeagle, a heavily forested community northwest of Truckee.
Burt was already paying a lot for insurance — $6,300 a year for the three homes — and now fears that her premiums could double or triple as she shops for replacement coverage. Rising premiums are also hurting her livelihood as a real estate agent: Burt lost a sale in Colfax recently because the buyers couldn’t find insurance for less than $6,900…
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