California property owners hoping to open new insurance policies are no longer able to do so with one of the nation’s largest homeowner insurance companies.
Allstate, the state’s fourth-largest property and casualty insurance provider, has stopped selling new home, condominium or commercial insurance policies in California, according to a company statement, first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle. It is the latest insurance giant to say it will no longer offer coverage, citing worsening climate and higher building costs that have made it harder to do business in the nation’s most-populous state.
California’s largest homeowner insurance provider, State Farm, made a similar decision last week, pointing to “rapidly growing catastrophe exposure.” Allstate stopped accepting new policies in the state last year, according to the statement.
“We paused new homeowners, condo and commercial insurance policies in California last year so we can continue to protect current customers,” Brittany Nash, an Allstate spokeswoman, said in the statement, which was shared with media outlets. “The cost to insure new home customers in California is far higher than the price they would pay for policies due to wildfires, higher costs for repairing homes and higher reinsurance premiums.”
Allstate’s decision in California follows a pattern seen across the United States in which insurance companies are raising rates, restricting coverage or ending business altogether in areas vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. In Florida, most large insurance companies have pulled out of the state, with homeowners relying on smaller private companies, whose resources are being stretched, to protect their homes in the face of severe storms that have become typical.
In the statement, Allstate cited other factors in pausing new policies in California, including state regulations and inflation, which has led to higher costs for rebuilding.
It’s not the first time Allstate limited the sale of new homeowner insurance policies in California. It did so in 1994, after the Northridge earthquake. The company eventually returned to the state, but it paused new homeowner insurance policies there again in 2007. Ten years later, it came back to the California market.
The combined moves by Allstate and State Farm in California may lead more property owners in the state to lean on the FAIR Plan, a state-offered “insurer of last resort” in high-risk fire areas. As of 2022, there were more than 270,000 FAIR policies — more than double what was offered in 2018 — as worsening wildfires and an exodus of traditional insurers from fire-threatened areas led some homeowners to rely on the program, which provides temporary, and generally more expensive, fire coverage.
The FAIR Plan requires insurance companies operating in California to cover losses proportional to their market share in the state.
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