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Homes nestled amongst dense brush and power transmission lines in the Oakland Hills area of Oakland, Calif.

Homes nestled amongst dense brush and power transmission lines in the Oakland Hills area of Oakland, Calif.

Photographer: Philip Pacheco/Bloomberg
Green
Climate Adaptation

Wildfire Risk Leaves Californians Without Homeowners Insurance

Grappling with a climate emergency, companies say they can’t pay for catastrophic losses.

Acquiring home insurance has long been a mundane but necessary chore. In California, for hundreds of thousands of residents, it’s turned into a labyrinthine quest that leaves people with expensive, bare-bones coverage. That’s because an increasing amount of Californians have been dropped by their regular insurers after years of devastating wildfires that cost billions of dollars and upended the market.

The problem has been getting worse. In October, California’s insurance regulator reported that insurers refused to renew 235,250 home insurance policies in 2019, a 31% increase from the prior year. In ZIP codes that had a moderate to very high fire risk, non-renewals jumped 61%.