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.
- Disseminate information to homeowners facing the affortability and availability crisis
- Support shopping tools that help match homeowners with independent insurance agents to help them shop for insurance
- Collect data through our ongoing California Home Insurance Survey
- Gather existing standards documents or standards communities are using to prescribe home hardening and fuel reduction steps (see below)
- Advocate in the CA legislature to support statewide mitigation standards recognized, financial assistance, inspection and certification programs
- Work at the federal level to advance mitigation and insurance support/reward programs across the country
Project Directors – Amy Bach, Executive Director, United Policyholders
Project Support - Emily Rogan and Valerie Brown, United Policyholders
- 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
Sonoma County Community Investment Program
Consumer Federation of America
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.
- Dropped by your insurer, where to go for help
- The lowdown from UP on the California FAIR Plan, the last resort option for insuring your home
UP Webinar: Shopping for Insurance in a challenging marketplace
- Wildfire Risk Reduction and Insurability (UP overview)
- Climate Change and Insurance
- Commission of Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery Final Report
- Department of Insurance Whitepaper on Availability/Affordability
Commissioner predicts shrinking insurance options for CA homeowners
Data / Survey Results
Examples of local mitigation and certification programs
Examples of Mitigation Standards
- IBHS Wildfire Codes and Standards: A State-by-State Reference Guide (Nov 2019)
- Mount Veeder FSC Community Fire Protection Plan (2016)
- Oakland Fire Safe Council Defensible Space Study (2019)
Oakland CP&R Home Hardening for Wildfire
- HR 5494 - Catastrophe Loss Mitigation Incentive and Tax Parity Act of 2019
- AB 2367 (CA 2020) - Letter of Support
AB 2167 (CA 2020) UP Assembly Letter of Opposition, UP Senate Letter of Opposition
- Template AB 2167 Letter of Opposition
- Consumer Federation of California AB 2167 Letter of Opposition
- Consumer Federation of America Actuarial Opinion Concerning AB 2167
- Consumer Watchdog Letter to Senator Atkins Re: AB 2167
- Article: Watchdog group opposes bill that would hike insurance rates in fire-prone areas
- Senate Bill Analysis
- Assembly Bill Analysis
- SB 292 (CA 2020) - Letter of Opposition
- Wildfire Safety and Recovery Act - SB 824