AB 478 prohibits insurance companies from dropping coverage in wildfire-prone areas and prevents huge rate increases
- Aaron Vad
- Chief of Staff
- (916) 319-2012
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 478, which protects adults 65 years-of-age and older from losing their home insurance policy due to increasing risks of wildfires. AB 478 prevents home insurance providers from cancelling or refusing to renew an insurance policy for seniors based solely on the fact that the homeowners live in a high or very high fire hazard severity zone. The bill also puts a 25% cap on the amount an insurance company can increase a senior homeowner’s policy in a high or very high fire hazard severity zone and only allows one premium hike every five years.
“Seniors in rural areas are struggling under the brunt of ever-more-deadly and destructive wildfire seasons,” said Assemblymember Connolly. “These insurance policies are lifelines for folks that have to rebuild their lives after suffering through a terrible tragedy. We must ensure our seniors can continue to get the coverage they need to be protected from disaster without causing them to go broke or fall to a lender of last resort.”
“Fires have become an increasing issue in California as drought conditions persist and worsen, and the result is affordable fire insurance has become unavailable to many seniors throughout the state,” said Jan Lemucchi, Senate Member of the California Senior Legislature. “An estimated two-thirds of older Californians are at risk of having their homes be underinsured, a disastrous outcome that would prevent seniors from ever rebuilding their communities.”
Older people in California are more likely to live in rural, fire-susceptible areas. Nearly 2 million older Californians live in areas where wildfire is formidable threat, according to a KQED and CalMatters investigation. The average age of the people who died during the 2017 fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties was 73, and the average age of the people who died in the 2018 Camp fire was 72. Seniors who are uninsured and lose their homes in these disasters have few resources to rebuild, with many forced into homelessness or inadequate, temporary shelter.
AB 478 now resides in the Assembly Rules Committee, awaiting referral to its first policy committee.
Assemblymember Connolly represents the entirety of Marin County and Southern Sonoma County.