Insurance commissioner to host FAIR Plan investigatory hearing

Eric Jaramishian / Mountain Democrat
Ricardo Lara

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is hosting an investigatory hearing July 13 regarding California’s FAIR Plan insurance program to gather information, facts and testimony from the public on improvements needed for the program.

The open hearing regarding the California Fair Plan is meant to determine how to better meet property owner’s needs across the state, according to the commissioner’s office. 

“The impetus for this hearing are persistent concerns raised by consumers, businesses, insurance producers, elected officials and the commissioner about the FAIR Plan’s internal operations and external factors including, but not limited to, the need for greater liability coverage for homes and businesses, the need for increased personnel and resources, the handling of smoke claims, higher commercial coverage limits and interpretation of underwriting guidelines, among other factors,” states a June 10 news release from Lara’s office.

“The FAIR Plan must be held to the highest standards of service and consumer protection and continue to evolve with the changing times in order to remain relevant, available and ready to meet continued consumer needs,” continues the release.

The FAIR plan is a last resort fire insurance coverage plan established in 1968 by the state Legislature for homeowners and businesses unable to find insurance in the traditional marketplace.

According to a July 7 Facebook post, El Dorado County District 3 Supervisor Wendy Thomas was invited by Lara’s office to share her own testimony during the hearing, having recently lost coverage on a Placerville commercial property she is part owner of and scrambling to find insurance.

Thomas said had nine days before her coverage was about to expire to find insurance. Not receiving anything in the traditional market, she had no choice but to go with the FAIR Plan. Her insurance agent said it would take about three to five days to get the policy.

That was not the case, since the Broadway property had to go about 15 days without insurance. 

Thomas told the Mountain Democrat she had “trememdous challenges” with the FAIR Plan, calling the process of obtaining coverage difficult and “clunky.”

“We have tenants and a mortgage and we couldn’t do anything about it,” Thomas said. “So many deficiencies in the way they do business came to light. I gained a whole new understanding and appreciation for what our homeowners and our business owners are going through.” 

Thomas noted about 40% of Grizzly Flat residents were uninsured or underinsured and urged those struggling with the FAIR Plan to submit written comments or speak at the Wednesday hearing.

“It would be so beneficial for carrying our message here in El Dorado County and advocating for the protection we need,” Thomas added. “Not only does this impact our residents’ everyday life, it has huge economic development ramifications if our commercial businesses can get the protection they need.”

The physical location of the meeting will be held in Oakland at the California Department of Insurance and a Zoom option will be available.

Those wishing to comment by mail can do so by mailing DOI Staff Services Analyst Abigail Meraz at 300 Capitol Mall, 17th floor in Sacramento, 95814. Meraz can be reached by email at Comments must be received by July 13.

The link to participate in-person or virtually can be found at

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