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Calaveras And Amador Leaders Meet With Insurance Commissioner

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San Andreas, CA – Mother Lode government officials joining a bandwagon to advocate for homeowners insurance relief in high wildfire risk areas are now asking the public to climb aboard.

As we recently reported here, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, whose office was beginning to catch heat for not understanding the severity of related issues, announced the formation of a Strike Team to interface with insurers and work with affected local governments and consumers.

In fact, as reported here, Tuolumne County government officials are hosting an Insurance Town Hall next week at Sonora Opera Hall with members of Lara’s staff. Homeowners who have received nonrenewal notices, cancellations, are experiencing skyrocketing homeowners insurance rates or other related issues are encouraged to attend.

Clarke Broadcasting talked with Calaveras County Administrative Officer (CAO) Al Alt, who was among an entourage of officials from Calaveras and Amador counties that met with Lara and his staff in Sacramento. He admitted to being pleasantly surprised as the intent of the visit was to lobby.

Instead, he says, they reviewed a PowerPoint presentation on the commissioner’s newly crafted outreach plans.

“We had [previously] heard that Lara was not very receptive…I think the advocacy and multiple trips from rural counties have started to sink in because our experience was vastly different than what had been characterized for us,” Alt shared.

‘Squeaky Wheel’ Approach Paying Off

“I think that the pressure over time and the constant feedback that the Insurance Commissioner has gotten from the field – they have turned the corner and are now advocating for consumers, particularly rural counties and providing an assist.”

Alt says he has heard of homeowners insurance numbers as high as $5,000 to $7,000 forcing not only Calaveras residents but those in other rural counties into the state-sponsored Fair Plan coverage that is not anywhere near as comprehensive as a regular homeowners policy.

“The Insurance Commissioner’s Office acknowledged that coverages are being nonrenewed or canceled based on …[satellite map] overview,” Alt added, commenting that insurers using that and blanket criteria pretty much lumps together any residence on a slope with fuels and small roads in the same highest risk category.

Alt says as Lara’s office is working on some bills he is trying to get through in this session, the commissioner urged all local government officials to stress the need for the public to get involved and share their stories.

Calaveras County will have its own forum coming up shortly with the date and location still to be announced.
“I think it would be really important to continue to encourage the public to reach out to the Insurance Commissioner…through the consumer hotline,” he stresses. The number is 800 927-4357. For how to do this online, click here.

The Tuolumne Association of Realtors (TCAR) is conducting a local survey to help further quantify homeowners’ issues. Click here for more details and how to participate.