California Insurance Commissioner’s Plan for Managing Climate Change Risks Draws Criticism

Home burns in Alpine
A home burns in Alpine during a wildfire in July 2018. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Given a time of fast-moving climate change, wouldn’t you like to know what the chances are of your house being in the path of a wildfire?

It’s a question most homeowners would like answered and so too would California’s insurance industry. Toward that end, the state insurance commissioner formed the Climate Insurance Working Group to “make recommendations to reduce the threat from wildfires, floods, mudflows, urban high heat, sea-level rise” and other impacts from climate change.

But the group’s draft report has drawn controversy. Critics contend the resulting 67-page document heavily favors the insurance industry.

“The report has been hijacked,” said Consumer Watchdog‘s Carmen Balber, a longtime expert on the insurance industry in California.  She notes that the working group included two insurance industry executives and an industry lobbyist, “but not a single consumer representative.”

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Michael Soller counters saying his boss Ricardo Lara is a member of the working group and the commissioner is “the state’s top insurance consumer advocate.”

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