State Farm will no longer insure new homes in CA due to wildfire risk, construction costs

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, May 28, 2023
State Farm will no longer insure new homes in CA due to wildfires
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State Farm says it will no longer insure new homes and properties in California due to wildfires and rebuilding costs.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- A big announcement this holiday weekend from of the country's biggest insurance companies. State Farm says effective Saturday, it will no longer insure new homes or businesses in California due to high wildfire risk and increased construction costs.

"The fact they want to pick and choose who they cover, it doesn't seem the way it should be," said Lisa Frazee.

Lisa Frazee knows the slogan, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there," but she wonders how true that is, after the company announced it will no longer insure new homes and properties in California due to wildfire risk and rebuilding costs.

Existing State Farm customers, like Lisa will not be affected. She and her family have spent the last years rebuilding the Santa Rosa home they lost in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. The house is now complete. But Lisa worries about others moving to the area, looking to insure their homes or businesses.

MORE: Homeowners could still lose fire protection under new insurance proposal: What you need to know

"Insurance is for when things go wrong, fire is something that goes wrong - I think if you want to be offered insurance in the state of California, you should have to insure everyone in California," said Frazee.

State Farm auto policies will remain the same.

In a statement, the company said:

"State Farm made this decision due to historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure and a challenging reinsurance market... it's necessary to take these actions now to improve the company's financial strength."

California has experienced record wildfires in the past six years. State Farm is the second insurance company to stop offering coverage due to wildfires. Last year, AIG notified thousands of Californians their policies would not be renewed. With State Farm no longer accepting new customers, the real question is where people can go for insurance in high fire risk areas.

MORE: Will new regulations do enough to keep homeowners from losing fire insurance?

Janet Ruiz from the Insurance Information Institute says California's FAIR Plan is the insurer of last resort for high-risk areas. But it's complicated.

"It's a basic policy, only covers fire - you have to get a wraparound policy too to cover theft and liability," said Ruiz.

California's Department of Insurance says State Farm's actions shouldn't affect other companies.

As for Lisa, she's happy to have insurance for her new fire-resistant home.

"If we find wood, let's knock on it," she added.

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