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Survey Hopes To Raise Awareness Of Fire Insurance Purchasing Woes

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Sonora, CA – Mother Lode realtors are asking for the public’s help to provide specific data proving there is a spreading epidemic affecting homeowners in the state’s highest wildfire hazard areas.

As reported here, back in May, Tuolumne County Association of Realtors (TCAR) officials reported a troubling trend of local insurance policy cancellations or non-renewals — and tripled premium rates for those seeking new policies from insurance companies willing to cover high-risk properties for elevated prices.

On Friday, TCAR President Judy Austin confided to Clarke Broadcasting that her group has prepared a survey to gather hard data to help determine how many homeowners are being affected and how.

“Every day people are getting canceled, non-renewals. They are forced into being in the Fair Plan [with the State of California]. The higher up areas…say Mi Wuk…it is very difficult to find anybody to write [an insurance policy],” she maintained. “All the smaller companies are pulling out. We do have other companies that are coming in, but it’s very expensive.”

Taking A By The Numbers Approach 

Increasingly, she noted, homeowners are having to get onto the Fair Plan to cover their home in the event of a wildfire, then purchase other policies to completely cover their residence. “If someone was paying $800 to cover a 2,000-square foot house and now it’s $3,000, we want to see and show the percentage of increase and we want to know how many companies that homeowners have gone through,” she continued. “We encourage all homeowners to take this survey because the more data we can collect, the better it is and the better our case to get some help up here,” she emphasized.

At the California Association of Realtors meetings back in June, Austin and the TCAR delegation took anecdotal stories they collected, which made it to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. She hopes that the personal experiences, combined with data quantifying what is happening will further raise awareness.

“This affects homeownership so much — we are trying to be in front of it and bring that awareness to our state,” Austin stated. She said she found it interesting that the Insurance Commissioner’s position is that local insurance prices were suppressed for a long time and now are catching up. “We are the only area getting our insurance policies canceled or tripled. It’s not happening in the Bay Area,” she points out.

The surveys can be taken anonymously and there is also an option for home insurance buyers to go on record to share their experiences. Once the numbers are in and crunched, Austin hopes the state can come up with a better solution than the Fair Plan. “What our situation is now – it’s not good – people can’t buy houses because the insurance it too much.”

To take the survey, click here.

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