An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Franz: Insurance Companies Dropping Policyholders Due To Wildfire Concerns

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says rural residents are losing their homeowners' insurance coverage because of concerns about wildfire danger.

Franz says the non-renewal notices came despite the fact some homeowners have worked to make their property more fire resistant.

"They're having it dropped not after making a claim for damages," she said. "It's just that the insurance companies have assessed that they are in a wildfire prone risk area. Therefore, after 30 years of loyalty to the company, they're dropping them from insurance."

Franz says 2.2 million homes in Washington are at increased wildfire risk, primarily in areas known as the urban wildland interface, adjacent to forested areas.

Kara Klotz from the state Insurance Commissioner's office says, between January 2018 and June 2019, about 800 homeowner policies statewide were not renewed due to wildfire risk. She says, many times, it is smaller regional insurance companies that are dropping customers.

"Our advice to consumers when they get a non-renewal notice is to shop around," Klotz said. "There are a lot of companies that sell in the state that have a bigger risk pool that sell all over the country. We don't have any data that says the market isn't health and insurance isn't available for people."

Klotz says the insurance commissioner's office also offers help to homeowners looking for information about insurance.