Insurance aflame: Coverage inequities rage as population grows in wildfire regions

By Emily Schmidt
American Public Media Research Lab
August 19, 2022
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

…The National Interagency Fire Center cites more than 5.9 million acres burned in over 42,000 fires just this year—already surpassing total acreage burned in 2019 (4.6 million) and quickly approaching that of 2021 (7.1 million). …Just like the sometimes unpredictable nature of wildfires, the extent of insurance coverage afterward can be uncertain, too. A wildfire is a peril normally covered under homeowners insurance… However, Valerie Brown, the deputy executive director of the nonprofit United Policyholders (UP), said the devastation of a wildfire is very different than other perils under insurance because the integrity of a property’s foundation is compromised, which increases rebuilding costs considerably. …In the last several years, a frightening trend has emerged across western states—insurance companies are refusing to renew policies for homeowners in high-risk areas. …instead of using these risk maps to keep people in fire zones from being insured, insurance companies can partner with property owners to encourage fire safety upkeep.

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