The Wildfire Risk Reduction and Asset Protection Project ("WRAP")  was created in 2017 to tackle a home insurance availability and affordability crisis that is causing panic in suburban and rural California communities, hitting people hard in the pocketbook, reducing property values, hurting real estate sales and causing a ripple effect of economic harm. United Policyholders is helping homeowners deal with the crisis and keep their homes insured by disseminating shopping tips and tools and working with partners throughout the state on community-based and public policy solutions.

The crisis began in mountain communities where drought conditions had led to bark beetles destroying over 100 million trees, triggering  concerns about increased wildfire risk. Insurance companies began sharply raising prices in those communities, dropping large numbers of long-time customers en masse and halting sales of new policies.  Then when a series of severe wildfires hit the state, the home insurance availability and affordability crisis spread and residents of foothills, rural and suburban areas got hit with waves of non-renewals and premums jumped to double, triple and even ten times what people had been paying. 

Homeowners need insurance for financial security and to comply with mortgage requirements. Insurers say their actions are due to the CA Dept. of Insurance not granting their rate increase requests fast enough, recent severe wildfires that hurt their profitability, and that the cost of the reinsurance they buy to cover high dollar exposure has jumped.  They are seeking a legislative change that will allow them to circumvent the rate approval process California voters implemented in 1988 via Proposition 103.

Given that homeowners are reporting getting premium quotes of $12,000 per year, giving insurers increased freedom to raise rates does not seem like the right fix.

We believe that before we allow insurers to raise rates even more, we need to do everything we can to reduce the chances of homes being destroyed in wildfires. We see this crisis as a "all hands on deck" situation that requires the full cooperation of insurance companies, citizens, fire prevention experts and local and state governments.  We believe that if you make improvements so your home is less likely to be seriously damaged or destroyed in a wildfire, it's only fair that your insurance costs should reflect that reduced risk...or at the very least, you should be able to find and keep affordable home insurance.  

This initiative brings together stakeholders including: public officials, insurance agents, realtors, Fire Safe Councils, firefighting professionals, the California Department of Insurance, Firewise Community reps and volunteers to establish a statewide program.  A program to assist and reward wildfire risk reduction through the adoption of and compliance with standards, certification and preferred insurance rating or discounts for those whose homes are certified.

For a deeper dive, visit: www.uphelp.org/wrap

The WRAP Initiative

The "WRAP" Initiative aims to help create mitigation standards, financial assistance, inspection and certification programs and insurance rewards that will reduce the underlying risk of wildfires and help restore a competitive home insurance market. In addition to constantly monitoring the insurance marketplace, disseminating information and free shopping tools to homeowners and stakeholders, UP is also doing advocacy work in Sacramento and throughout CA. 

Approach:

Logistics:

Project Directors – Amy Bach, Executive Director, United Policyholders

Project Support - Emily Rogan and Valerie Brown, United Policyholders 

WRAP Advisors: 

  • Susan Piper, Oakland Fire Safe Council
  • Cheryl Miller, Diablo Fire Safe Council
  • Laurie Hutchinson, Lake County Fire Safe Council
  • Mary Schreiber, Fire Safe Council of Silverado
  • Mount Veeder Fire Safe Council
  • Bill Tyler, Novato Fire District
  • Kim Zagaris, Western Fire Chiefs Association
  • Susan Duenas, City of Malibu
  • Jerry Vandermeulen, City of Malibu
  • Priscilla Abercrombie, COPE Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies

Inquiries, email: emily@uphelp.org

Funders:

Sonoma County Community Investment Program
Consumer Federation of America
AT&T

Please donate to support this important project.  
Thank you to all our donors who donated to supported this important project at our 2019 Build UP Fund-a-Need.

 
Resources:
 
Consumer Help Information
 
Reports and Bulletins
 

Data / Survey Results

Rewards

Examples of local mitigation and certification programs

Examples of Mitigation Standards 

Legislation

About The Blogger

United Policyholders

United Policyholders is a non-profit organization that serves as a voice and an information resource for insurance consumers in all 50 States.