California aims to lower fire insurance costs for homeowners

FILE - A scorched pickup truck sits in front of a Wakefield Avenue home destroyed by the Mill Fire on Saturday, Sept.  3, 2022, in Weed, Calif.  A wood products company said Wednesday, Sept.  7, 2022 that it is investigating whether a fire that killed two people as it swept through a Northern California town was caused by the possible failure of a water-spraying machine used to cool ash at its veneer mill.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

FILE – A scorched pickup truck sits in front of a Wakefield Avenue home destroyed by the Mill Fire on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Weed, Calif. A wood products company said Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022 that it is investigating whether a fire that killed two people as it swept through a Northern California town was caused by the possible failure of a water-spraying machine used to cool ash at its veneer mill. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

AP

California moved Wednesday to become the first state to lower insurance costs for property owners who make improvements to reduce their fire risk, the state’s insurance commissioner said as wildfires again flared across the heat-stricken state.

But the pending regulation still allows insurers to drop property owners’ insurance entirely if they deem the site too risky, a consumer advocacy group said.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said the regulation is the first in the nation requiring that insurance companies give premium discounts on residential and commercial coverage to customers who follow new insurance standards announced in February. They include having a fire-resistant roof, at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) of defensible space around a home and removing vegetation overgrowth.

Additional reductions would be required if the property is in a community that has taken steps to reduce wildfire risk.

He submitted the final rules to the California Office of Administrative Law, which has 30 working days to make sure Lara complied with proper administrative procedures before they take effect.

Lara said in a statement that the new regulations “will help more Californians find insurance they can afford” and “will save lives by helping California become safer from wildfires.”

The pending regulations also require insurance companies to provide consumers with their property’s “risk score” and give them a

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