One of the growing concerns in the community is the increasing number of fire insurance policies cancellations, especially in the agricultural and business sectors within the North Coast area.  At the most recent NCAC monthly meeting in April, members heard from local agricultural and business representatives about the increasing number of fire insurance cancellations and/or huge increases in policy prices.

     Mike Broadhurst, owner of Dragon Spring Farms, reported that a number of farmers have had to go to the FAIR California state-supported insurance fund for insurance, and Aaron Linn of Linn’s Restaurants and Farm Store indicated that Linn’s has had to close or consolidate some of their business operations because of insurance costs.

     In examining the reasons for the escalating fire insurance costs and cancellations, NCAC contacted an expert in the field of fire insurance for background information.  He indicated that this cost increase began in earnest in early 2019, when much of the County went into the “Extreme” category on the fire map.  This caused the re-insurance market to begin dropping clients.  While the State entered the market (with the California FAIR program) a number of clients were still dropped, and others saw increases of up to 600 percent their previous insurance policy costs.  

     Currently, this increased cost applies mainly to rural areas that are outside an urban boundary where hydrants and local fire service are available.  Cambria and San Simeon are both considered non-rural in this context.  As the fire insurance specialist indicated, this is a fluid situation, but it is most likely to be exacerbated as the drought situation worsens.

     Non-renewal of home insurance policies can leave low-income residents particularly vulnerable.  When insurance companies drop policies, homeowners often are left with two options:  to proceed without insurance or enroll in the State’s FAIR plan.  The plan is expensive in comparison to other alternatives and does not provide as much coverage.  The plan covers only the costs that a fire, lightning, storm, or other disaster causes to the home’s structure.  Homeowners are required to pay more to get coverage for personal belongings, unattached structures, such as garages or fences, or additional living expenses that the disaster might prompt, such as staying in a hotel.

     The next monthly meeting of the NCAC will be on Wednesday, May 18, at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom.  The Zoom invitation can be found on the NCAC website (ncacslo.org).