California Property Owners Worried About Home Insurance Costs

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    For some time now, consumers across the country have been concerned with the rising cost of all their insurance policies. However, some may be particularly aggrieved with their home insurance premiums these days, as many Americans have seen them rise sharply in a relatively short period of time, usually just a few years. This seems to be particularly true of some consumers in California, where the risk posed by wildfires has caused their home insurance costs to balloon quickly. This is an issue insurance agents will certainly have to monitor closely if they have clients in areas that are at high risk for any kind of premium-boosting natural disaster, as these emerging realities could upset consumers en masse.

    Many homeowners in the state of California – which is still gripped by drought – have seen the risk they carry for having their properties damaged by wildfires rise sharply in the last few years, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. That, in turn, has led to sharp increases in their home insurance costs related to this type of protection specifically, as state-wide increases for fire coverage have risen at least 30 percent in many such areas. That can often translate to more than a few thousand dollars annually, a cost that some of these homeowners simply cannot bear.

    How big is this issue?
    Some data suggests that about 15 percent of homes in drier, more mountainous areas have been affected by rising costs, and that these homeowners already tend to pay more than people with similar homes in less-risky areas; sometimes by as much as 30 percent or even 40 percent, the report said. Insurance companies say the rising costs are a necessary – if unfortunate – upshot of the increased risk, but consumer advocates say that it’s nonetheless a huge concern.

    “It’s a major, major issue,” Jim Middleton, vice chair of the Mariposa County Fire Safe Council and retired deputy chief of the Mariposa County Fire Department, told the newspaper. “Without the insurance, you don’t have a mortgage. Without a mortgage, your house is worthless.”

    Wildfire risk is significantly increasing California insurance premiums.Wildfire risk is significantly increasing California insurance premiums.

    What can be done?
    People with homes that may be at particular risk could have somewhere to turn, however, the report said. The California Fair Plan Association, which is backed by the insurance industry, allows limited additional fire insurance coverage at a low cost, but many homeowners – perhaps because they’re just not aware – haven’t taken advantage of this availability.

    The more people tend to know about their coverage, the better off they and their agents are likely to be as a result. Studies generally show that informed consumers, who know what their paying for and why their costs may be rising, tend to be happier with their plans overall, and that’s particularly true when they are able to develop and maintain strong relationships with their agents or insurers themselves. That, in turn, is likely to lead these professionals to get better results in terms of customer satisfaction ratings and client retention, which will be of significant benefit in the long run.