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Real estate market, insurance policies affected by increasing wildfire incidents

New home safety standards could help ensure coverage
Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 22:18:13-04

The Department of Insurance is seeing a trend across California of homeowners who are having a hard time finding insurance due to wildfires, but real estate agents say the biggest issue could be the effect on home sales in the community.

"Insurance companies are being more cautious and some are even leaving the State of California. They're not doing business here, then this is an important factor for sellers to consider. How can I get the house ready so that the buyer doesn't have trouble putting homeowners insurance in place?" said Shannon Kessler, a broker and manager for Century 21 Hometown Realty in San Luis Obispo.

Although the number of wildfires experienced across the state are unpredictable, insurance experts say there are some steps homeowners can take to help increase their chances of getting their insurance renewed.

Some of those safety measures include having the proper amount of defensible space, hardening your home by putting in better vents, clearing your gutters, and making sure your roof is wildfire-resistant.

Insurance experts also say that being denied or not renewed by one company doesn't necessarily mean you'll have the same experience with another company.

“Insurance companies look at your home and your loss experience, not the fact that you were not renewed by another company,” said Janet Ruiz, Director of Strategic Communications for the Insurance Information Institute.

Additional standards in new homes could also be a way to help ensure coverage is guaranteed.

“Another feature that’s common in higher-end homes for those out in the edges is a fire sprinkler. That helps you get fire insurance if you have fire sprinklers and in fact, they are code in newer properties in some areas,” Kessler said.