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California sets home and community standards to reduce fire risk | Economic news

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A fire-resistant roof, at least 5 feet of defensible space around a home, a clearly defined escape route in a neighborhood, and the elimination of overgrowth in a community are some of the new statewide insurance standards to reduce the risk of fires in older homes, California officials announced Monday.

“Reducing the risk of wildfires is key to making insurance available, reliable and affordable to all Californians,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said.

Dubbed “Safer from Wildfires,” the new standards announced Monday outline actions to strengthen homes, their immediate surroundings and the communities in which they are located, steps insurance companies should consider for homes and businesses.

California has existing wildfire building standards for homes built after 2008. But as catastrophic wildfires increase the cost of insuring homes, the new standards would prompt insurance companies to offer rebates, offering incentives for retrofitting older homes, Lara said.

There are 12 insurance companies representing 40% of the insurance market already offering discounts to homeowners taking tougher action. Three years ago, only 7% of the market was offered such discounts, Lara said.

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But he said he wanted to see broader rebate programs and believes a uniform set of standards, based on scientific research, will give homeowners, communities and insurance companies a common strategy to reduce risk. forest fire.

“The framework will help me as a regulator of the nation’s largest insurance market to extend insurance incentives to homes and businesses, which will save money and encourage safety” , did he declare.

The guidelines follow a year of work by the insurance commissioner and four state agencies responsible for wildfire response and prevention.

Participating agencies include the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Since 2017, nearly 50,000 homes have been destroyed by wildfires in California and it is essential to take proactive measures to protect properties before a fire starts, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Bureau of Services state emergency.

“Homeowners who actually take the time to prepare by taking steps like the ones we’re discussing today will be more resilient and able to deal with the impacts of these types of disasters and of course recover faster,” he said. declared. noted.

Homeowners and communities will have access to millions of dollars in state and federal grants to help them make their homes and neighborhoods more resilient, officials said.

Stronger California, a coalition of homeowners insurers, said it welcomes the new standards, which reflect input from many stakeholders across the state.

“Policies like these are already being implemented by many insurers, which will help us achieve the common goal of making insurance available to all homeowners in California,” he said in a statement.

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