Some Californians are worried the states’ updated wildfire maps could impact their insurance rates.
Cal FIRE is classifying the severity of fire hazards in California, marking zones as moderate, high, or very high. They are redoing their maps for the first time since 2007, according to reports.
Fire officials added 31 million acres of unincorporated and rural locations as hazard areas across the state. The state is responsible for preventing and protecting against wildfires in these areas.
According to VC Star, the proposed “very high” category includes more than 341,000 acres in Ventura County, or 96% of the rural, unincorporated area. That’s a 21% increase over the prior map.
The Fire Hazard Severity Zones (FHSZ) are meant to show the likelihood that an area will burn over a 30- to 50-year period, not show the risk to property a wildfire could do.
However, some residents worry that changes to “very high” zones could lead insurance companies to drop homeowners coverage. The number of Californians not renewed by their insurance companies exceeded 200,000 policyholders in 2019 and 2020, according to data.
The proposed maps shouldn’t impact insurance rates, Janet Ruiz, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, told the VC Star. Ruiz said insurers use models from private companies like CoreLogic that look at fire hazards in more depth and do not rely on the state’s assessment.
The state Fire Marshal is extending the time available for people to voice any concerns about the new map.
The public can send written comments on the proposed maps through April 4, 2023, to FHSZcomments@fire.ca.gov or to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, C/O: FHSZ Comments, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244-2460.
To learn more information about the maps visit: osfm.fire.ca.gov/FHSZ.
Photo: The 2020 LNU Lightning Complex Fire burns through a neighborhood in Fairfield, Calif. Editorial credit: Trevor Bexon / Shutterstock.com