Oregon’s Department of Forestry did a controversial map on wildfire risk and homes located within those risk zones. It was so controversial that the state withdrew the map and a new one is in the process of being put together.
The outrage from homeowners over the map wasn’t lost on the Oregon Legislature. So last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 82 to address those concerns. That law went into effect January 1st.
It requires insurance companies to disclose whether and how wildfire risk impacts their rates and underwriting policies. In addition, it prohibits insurers from using the state’s wildfire risk map to cancel or refuse to renew a homeowner’s policy.
Oregon District 5 Representative Pam Marsh is mostly responsible for the bill. She said it will keep insurance companies a little more honest when dealing with consumers.
“This has continued to worry people because we are living in times where many of us have seen an increase in our insurance policies, some of us have seen policies get canceled, and when that gets canceled, we all just wonder why,” Marsh said. “This bill attempts to provide transparency around that question and make sure that consumers are protected.”
She said the transparency part of the bill is huge, too. It requires insurers to be very detailed as to why they cancel, or refuse to renew, a policy.
“The insurance company will now be required to consider those factors when they set rates,” Marsh said. “That doesn’t mean if there is not support that they have to give you a reduced rate because you have mitigated wildfire risk in some way, but it definitely means they have to consider it as part of their rate calculations.”
Another part of the bill will allow the survivor of a wildfire to 36 months to rebuild their home.
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