Oregon Legislature Passes Bill Impacting Wildfire Insurance

The Oregon Legislature has passed a bill that will restrict how insurance companies can use wildfire risk maps. The bill is a response to a badly done wildfire map done by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

It had everyone up in arms — including insurers.

The concern of consumers was homeowners policies and when, and how, an insurer could cancel their policy due to wildfire risk concerns.

Oregon Rep. Pam Marsh sponsored the bill and said this is about transparency for consumers. If an insurer cancels, they have to have a good reason why.

“They also need to tell you if there are mitigation actions that you could take to your property, for example, clearing out defensible space that is hovering around your home that would make you more insurable,” she said. “So just understanding those notifications that we get from insurance companies is a really important big part of this.”

Wildfire in Oregon has destroyed $3 billion in property in the last decade. Marsh said this has caused insurers to take a deeper look at how they’re taking on risk. 

“What that means is that insurance companies are increasingly looking at their portfolios and evaluating risk. And consumers are increasingly getting notifications that their canceled policies won’t be renewed, or that the policy price has gone up, or that they’re not insurable,” she said. “So we want to protect consumers during this period, recognizing that insurance companies are going to make the decisions that they’re going to make based on their financial needs.”

The Northwest Insurance Council and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) represent most of the insurers writing homeowners policies in Oregon. Kenton Brine heads up the Northwest Insurance Council and Christian Rataj is the Senior Regional Vice President, West Region of NAMIC.

They sent a letter to the legislators considering the bill and said insurers want much the same thing as the Oregon Legislature.

“We look forward to working with the Division of Financial Regulation to resolve these concerns in the rulemaking process, and we appreciate the Legislature’s efforts to include P&C insurers in the state’s efforts to reduce the threat of property loss due to wildfire in Oregon,” they wrote.

Source link: Jefferson Public Radio — https://bit.ly/3nsbilh

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