Drought, fire danger cause insurance premiums to jump

Thursday, September 18, 2014
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As fires grow across the state, some Bay Area residents are seeing their insurance premiums skyrocket.

OAKLAND HILLS, Calif. (KGO) -- As fires grow across the state, some Bay Area residents are seeing their insurance skyrocket. Drought, extreme fire conditions, and history are all working against those who live in the Oakland Hills. One homeowner said her premiums have gone up 500 percent in just the last year.

"My insurance went up I think 60 or 70 percent this year," said John Russo.

The former city attorney lives in the Oakland Hills. And as a homeowner, knows well what's being happening to his insurance premiums lately. But at least he still has coverage.

"My company said they were dropping people," he said. "My broker said they were pretty much dropping everybody in the hills. They're worried about a fire in the hills."

"Being in the drought is not helping at all," said Farmers Insurance agent Scott Halbrook.

He has many clients living in the Oakland Hills. Halbrook says he's been scrambling the last couple of years finding insurance for those who live in higher risk areas.

"We look at each property individually based on fuel in the area, slope in the area, and how accessible that house is as far as a dead end street and so forth," he said.

According to Halbrook, Farmers won't cancel anyone who is already with them, but isn't writing new business if a specific property exceeds a certain risk level.

Other companies won't renew or write policies at all, anymore, in certain zip codes.