El Dorado County fired up over homeowners insurance woes

Noel Stack
Mountain Democrat

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — A letter will soon be delivered to California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara addressing El Dorado County leaders’ and homeowners’ frustrations over the lack of affordable (or available) homeowners insurance.

Following a meeting earlier this summer at which dozens of property owners asked the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to engage state leaders, supervisors at their July 23 meeting supported sending a letter to the insurance commissioner and local legislative representatives expressing concerns that those who live in rural areas have been severely impacted — many receiving notices of non-renewal and others not able to get insurance at all.

“It’s harming a lot of people,” said District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl.

A flash vote survey conducted by El Dorado County in July in which 700 residents participated showed that 13% of respondents lost their homeowners’ insurance while another 23% reported that their insurance was renewed at a higher rate. About 48% of respondents said their homeowners’ insurance was renewed at about the same premium, or less (up to 10% more per year).

Georgetown resident Hank Krizl told the board at its July 23 meeting that his insurance was canceled despite the fact that his property is well maintained and has a large water tank. Previously paying about $2,000 a year for insurance, Krizl said the quotes he recently received were in the $11,000 to $14,000 per year range, “with higher deductibles.”

Another speaker who lives in Logtown said the county needs to go into “crisis mode,” adding that insurance trouble is especially hard on seniors who have a fixed income; they can’t afford insurance and/or can’t sell because the property is uninsurable.

Other community organizations have also met to discuss the issue as a lack of affordable homeowners insurance impacts many sectors of the local economy.

The letter is a start in what will be a long process, county leaders agreed. Officials are asking residents to lend their voices to the issue, posting on information about homeowners insurance as well as how to contact the state Department of Insurance.

“The more voices that contact his office the better,” District 4 Supervisor Lori Parlin noted.

“It seems like they don’t understand the severity (of the problem),” Hidahl said of lawmakers in Sacramento.

District 3 Supervisor Brian Veerkamp lamented that the insurance lobby has deep pockets and a lot of influence in Sacramento. He said El Dorado County and other rural jurisdictions facing this problem need to “look at every angle we can.”

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