Insurance companies shying away from mountain properties


Many insurance companies are giving mountain residents the cold shoulder when it comes to renewing their policies. It all boils down to insurance companies deciding that the risk is not worth the reward. Homes surrounded by giant trees have the potential of getting wiped out by a wildfire.

Shaver Lake is one of many mountain communities where it's becoming more difficult to find homeowners insurance. The problem has blossomed over the past five years. Fred Grantham has been an insurance agent for 17 years. "The insurance companies started doing more brush inspections, fire type inspections in those areas that have wildfire risks. It's gradually become worse and worse over the past 18 months I would say."

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company is having second thoughts about business in Shaver Lake and other mountain communities. A spokesman told Fox 26 News: "Unfortunately due to California's significant wildfire exposure we have taken the difficult but necessary step to responsibly manage our overall exposure to wildfires through underwriting decisions on new and renewal policies."

Shaver Lake is a community of 1750 people with homes located all over mountainside. Fire danger has increased because of dead or dying trees due to the drought and bark beetle.

It used to be a plus to live within five miles of a fire station. That too has changed policy writing in the mountains. But the Arnie Schweer Agency in Clovis says it's not impossible to find a company willing to write a policy. "Every insurance company has its' guidelines and risks that it wants to take on and I'm fortunate to have a company that's able to insure these properties.

Grantham says homeowners in mountain communities should expect higher deductibles. He says that sometimes insurance companies set deductibles at two percent of the value of your home.

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