Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 05:15

(TNS) — Insurance companies fleeing high-risk fire zones would have to stay put and even offer discounts if homeowners in those areas prepare for wildfires on a community-wide scale, under a new bill proposed in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The bill, AB 2367, has the backing of state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. It would mandate that starting in 2021, insurers would have to renew policies and continue to write new ones in communities that meet state standards for firescaping, or home hardening, that would be established before the law takes effect.

"Homeowners who have done all the right things, hardening their homes and mitigating for fire danger, are still seeing their insurance canceled or non-renewed," said state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), co-author of the bill. "We can't allow insurance companies to continue to drop responsible homeowners from San Diego to the Sierras just because they can."

The bill is the latest move from Sacramento to force insurance companies to continue issuing policies in the state's wildland-urban interface, the gray zone where millions of homeowners reside between suburbia and the forest. As of 2010, roughly one-third of the 13.6 million homes in California were located in this wildfire zone, according to federal data.

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