CA homeowners insurance has been in a state of crisis since the Camp Fire destroyed the entire town of Paradise, CA in November of 2018.
Some homeowners in Nevada County have faced yearly non-renewals and/or significant rate hikes year after year. One of the most frustrating aspects for homeowners has been the big red ‘X’ designating entire zip codes as high fire risk regardless of mitigating factors taken by responsible homeowners. Those homeowners who have cleared their property, installed sprinklers, and added fire-retardant roofing have seen no improvement in their acceptability to insurers nor to their policy rate with the last resort insurance offered by the CA FAIR Plan. The difficult to swallow news is that the CA FAIR Plan filed for a 48% rate increase with the CA Department of Insurance in 2021 with new rates anticipated for February 2022. The rate increases won’t be an ‘across the board’ percentage. Some homeowners will experience only a slight increase in rate, while others could see dramatic increases as much as 130%.
Rate will now be determined using a new AI system that better identifies wildfire risk to specific structures.
Although that may sound bleak, it is potentially very good news for Nevada County. The new AI developed by the tech company Zesty.ai is a scoring model known as Z-FIRE. Z-FIRE uses property specific factors which influence wildfire risk, rather than blanket decisions based only on map lines. This means that homeowners will have the power to affect their wildfire risk and therefore the policy or rate they receive. Z-FIRE employs over 15 data sources including aerial imagery, local weather data, building materials, slope, and brush clearance. Farmers Insurance has predicted the ability to add 30,000 new policies in California based on the new system.
With the openness of insurance companies to the use of new technology, which takes into account the diligent efforts of homeowners, this could be good news for Nevada County.
“I chose to enter the real estate market after spending several years helping Nevada County residents obtain home construction financing and homeowners insurance. I have a passion for helping people with all aspects of their housing needs. As a former loan officer, insurance agent, and teacher, I am particularly well-equipped to guide homebuyers through the complexities of purchasing and selling homes. I also specialize in home decor and remodeling; I love assisting homeowners with getting the most return possible on their investment and homebuyers to find and establish a dwelling perfectly suited to their needs and preferences.”