Homeowner's insurance in wildfire risk areas

Dud3
Contributor

To make a long story short, we have some decisions to make as a result of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.  We are looking to purchase a home elsewhere, still in the higher-risk area of the state, instead of rebuilding in Paradise.  This would be a second home for us, so we are not among the many unfortunate ones who are needing to rebuild their main home or relocate their family.  We found a candidate property for sale elsewhere, and contacted USAA for a homeowner's insurance quote.  USAA will not issue a policy, and inquiring around extensively there is no company willing to insure this property.  A local agent would like to help us but is backlogged helping existing clients and others who are in escrow, for whom the need is more urgent. I fully understand the reasoning and respect USAA's underwriting process.  But I am not kidding, many Californians do not live in the city or suburbs and there are millions of people in this predicament.  I am thankful we have cash and don't need to have insurance for mortage purposes for our primary home in this instance.  I fully understand the risk is much higher and that insurance may cost $2,000, $3,000 or more annually.  But the only option in many areas seems to be the last-resort option under the California FAIR plan, which for our propspective purchase would be minimum of $7,600 annually with no expectation that it won't increase later.  That put the kibosh on this home for us.  The area of interest for us is not even the higher-risk parts of the mountains, has only moderate forest cover, and a fire station within a mile.  We know of another family staying in Paradise, with a fire hydrant on their property and a fire station across the street, and their premium from another company is about $4,000 annually.  Again, please understand that just like hurricanes in the southeast and tornadoes in the midwest my insurance rates will be adjusted upward according the relative risk.  But what are other USAA members out there doing?   We want to have a home in a smaller community out of the city and now can afford to do so, except for the insurance.  Are you going to risk it and have no insurance at all?  Why is just California in the spotlight; what about all the fires each year in Oregon and Colorado and Idaho?

2 REPLIES

I Seems like USAA could come up with a better solution to work with their members.

USAA Is Turning Down Veterans for Coverage in California

First, I want to say I really enjoy working with USAA; however, I have been turned down for Home Owner’s Insurance over the last 2 years due to being in a Tier 2 fire hazard area. The home and property are well maintained (clear of brush and tall grass) and located a few miles out of town in the foothills of California. I have been a member with USAA for over 20 years (currently have auto insurance, boat loan, & home loan with USAA) and have recently not felt fully supported by USAA. I had approximately 13 years in the service (Navy & Air Force) prior to leaving and concentrating on my engineering career and it is very disappointing to me to get an answer on the phone, that because of the risk, they will not be able to cover me. I understand what they mean about “risk”, but they are not looking at the property or details of the area but more about the California Fire Risk Map. USAA was founded to support Military & Veterans and not to reject them and suggest they go through the California Fair Plan to get coverage. Based on my assumption following review of the coverage plans, it does not provide sufficient coverage and comes at a great cost. It saddens me when I read the below quotes from USAA and feel they have forgotten the meaning of the Company and what it means to help the military members.

Below is a section of USAA’s Corporate Responsibility on their website;

“In 1922, 25 Army Officers gathered at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio and made a promise to one another centered on trust and service. They pooled their resources to insure their automobiles when no insurance company would. By doing so, they filled a need in their community.

That was the beginning of USAA, and today, we continue the tradition of supporting our communities. At USAA, corporate responsibility means supporting military family resilience and helping to address needs in local communities where USAA has a physical location with significant employee presence.”

Quote from Mobile Web Page

“When you join USAA, you become part of a family that stands by you during every stage of your life.”

@woody327,

I see that we received your previous posts on Facebook and escalated your concerns to our Advocacy Team.  I will forward your additional post to them for review.  Thanks- Mike