A new poll finds that Insurance Commissioner Lara’s plan to allow insurance companies to increase premiums for all Californians in exchange for a promise to insure homeowners in higher wildfire risk areas is opposed by a 2 to 1 margin, 62% opposed to 30% in support. Only 9% of voters register in strong support.
By contrast, a plan to require insurance companies to cover all those who fireproof their homes has overwhelming voter support with 77% in support and 15% opposed – with broad support across gender, party, age, income, residence type and region. Legislation implementing the idea was introduced by Senator Mike McGuire last year as Senate Bill 672, but was denied a hearing in the Assembly Insurance Committee.
A strong majority of voters also want insurance companies who refuse to sell homeowners and renters insurance to customers to be denied the right to sell car insurance in California by a margin of 55% to 30%.
Read the poll and cross tab results.
“The poll shows that Commissioner Lara’s plan goes against the will of the California voters,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, which paid for the poll. “Voters clearly believe the answer to problems in the home insurance crisis is more regulation, not less. Voters overwhelmingly want insurers to be forced to cover those who fire proof their homes. By listening to Californians, legislators can make sure voters get the insurance coverage they need and at the same time reduce fire risk for everyone.”
Recently 32 members of the California Congressional Delegation also wrote Lara critical of his plan.
While voters show strong support for a crackdown on insurance companies’ underwriting practices, only a third of voters identify access to homeowners and renters insurance as a significant problem. 62% of voters say it is only somewhat of a problem or not a problem at all.
The poll was conducted among 639 likely November 2024 Voters by FM3 Research, headed by Paul Maslin and Rick Sklarz, from October 26 through October 30 for Consumer Watchdog.
Documents uncovered by Consumer Watchdog through a public records request also put in question whether any customers would get more access to coverage under Lara’s plan. They reveal that the quid pro quo for allowing insurance companies to raise rates on Californians – the insurance industry’s “commitment” to resume the sale of insurance – is riddled with loopholes.
The documents containing the Commissioner’s plan show:
- Insurers would be allowed to meet the deal’s only consumer benefit – their “commitment” to expand home insurance coverage in wildfire areas to 85% of their market share outside risky areas – by offering the same high cost, limited benefit coverage that homeowners are already guaranteed access to in the FAIR Plan today.
- The commissioner could waive the “85% commitment” entirely for any insurer that simply claims it cannot meet it.
- The bill’s other provisions to facilitate unjustified rate hikes mean consumers will be unable to afford the policies insurers are willing to sell.
View the documents and read more about what they reveal about the Commissioner’s deregulation deal with the insurance industry.