California to require insurance discounts for property owners who reduce wildfire risk
The Obama administration and the California Public Utilities Commission are asking the state legislature to approve a plan that would allow homeowners to receive a 10% discount on their insurance premiums if they make fire-safety modifications.
The bill proposed by commission President Michael Picker and PUC President Michael Florio would offer a discount to residential property owners who take certain steps to reduce the risk of wildfires, such as installing sprinkler systems, closing vacant structures and purchasing fire-resistant landscaping.
“There’s a growing body of evidence that, when we try to encourage people to take steps to protect their property and their families, and when we ask people to take action, it works to their benefit,” Florio said.
The PUC said the proposal would be the first statewide mandate requiring property owners to take such steps at such a low cost.
The California Office of State Fire Commissioner is conducting a study to determine the effectiveness of the proposal, as well as the costs involved.
If the program is approved, the PUC says it expects other states to follow the California model.
“This is not the only model we could imagine,” Florio said. “I guess it’s about getting everybody on the same page.”
The legislation is not going to be easy to pass.
“Some people are not going to like it for reasons that they’re not going to disclose,” Florio said. “Hopefully they come up with some ways to find an equitable way that we can get this across the board.”
The idea is based on research that the PUC has done to find out the “lowest-cost” ways to protect property owners from wildfires, but Florio said that he hasn’t found anything yet that makes the proposed program work.
The PUC has already looked at other approaches to reduce wildfire risk, such as installing sprinkler systems and having a home inspector. The PUC says it found it very difficult to find other homeowners who have taken such actions.
“One thing that’s also important in any of these other approaches is that they