Wildfire Insurance Legislation Signed by Governor Newsom

Brian German Agri-Business, Legislative

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 11, which is aimed at helping producers acquire some form of wildfire insurance. Authored by Senator Susan Rubio, the legislation makes necessary updates to the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. Parameters of the California FAIR Plan have been expanded to include certain agricultural structures which had previously not been covered.

Wildfire Insurance - California FAIR Plan

“This legislative victory is the culmination of months of hard work led by the Farm Bureau,” Chief Executive Officer of the Napa County Farm Bureau, Ryan Klobas said in a news release. “This is a first step that will now allow agricultural properties in Napa Valley and throughout California to access basic property insurance for wildfire coverage.”

The legislation was sponsored by the California Farm Bureau Federation and received bipartisan support. The California FAIR Plan will now cover farming residences, barns, crop storage units, structures that hold farm equipment, and other similar buildings. Coverage under the California FAIR Plan will still not extend to agricultural crop losses or damage to farming equipment.

Originally established in 1968, the California FAIR Plan has served as a last resort for agribusinesses unable to find insurance coverage from other carriers. Farmers and ranchers have found it increasingly difficult to get adequate wildfire insurance coverage. Wildfire dangers have become even more apparent over the previous five years. The California Department of Insurance is developing a report of non-renewals and underwriting restriction data to identify other areas of need.

“I thank Governor Newsom for acting quickly to protect our farmers, growers, and vintners who are facing tremendous hardships because insurance companies are deciding to non-renew them or refusing to write them commercial insurance,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a news release. “My Department staff will do our part to implement Senate Bill 11, helping to close the commercial insurance coverage gaps that are leaving many of our agribusinesses exposed to major losses.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West