Insurers of wineries and vineyards in CA. wildfire areas subject to DOI scrutiny

In what may give some hope to California’s beleaguered wineries and vineyards in high wildfire risk areas, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara last Tuesday directed insurers to provide details about cancellation, nonrenewal, or rejection of commercial insurance policies.

Agribusiness insurance carriers operating in California or participating in the California Fair Plan Association were given 60 days to provide the Department of Insurance with detailed information about changes made to their commercial policy underwriting guidelines since January 2017.

“This hardening of the commercial insurance market for our farmers, growers, and vintners, among others, affects local communities’ ability to bounce back from wildfires and demands swift action from policymakers driven by data and science,” Lara wrote in his  4/13/2021 letter to California business owners.

In the past few years, the Department of Insurance has collected detailed information on the tightening market for residential property coverage because of wildfire risk. Now, Lara said he wants to do this with the commercial market.

Lara has called on insurers and the California Fair Plan Association to provide the following information by June 14.

  • The total premium is written by the program.
  • New or recently revised wildfire underwriting restrictions.
  • Consideration of wildfire or location in rating and eligibility.
  • A number of new policies written since January 2017.
  • The number of non-renewals due to wildfire risk.
  • Total claims exposure and policy count.

This process will take some time but it’s a step in the right direction for those California wineries and vineyards facing the reality of tremendous premium increases or cancelation of their property insurance.

Click hear to read Lara’s letter & notice