(LifeSiteNews) — California’s insurance regulator approved rate hikes on homeowners to cover the supposed increased risk of wildfires and other damage due to “climate change.”
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara “will write new rules to let insurers look to the future when setting their rates,” according to the Associated Press.
“We are at a major crossroads on insurance after multiple years of wildfires and storms intensified by the threat of climate change. I am taking immediate action to implement lasting changes that will make Californians safer through a stronger, sustainable insurance market,” Lara stated. “The current system is not working for all Californians, and we must change course. I will continue to partner with all those who want to work toward real solutions.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said that “climate change is directly threatening our communities and livelihoods.”
The announcement followed a September 21 executive order by Newsom that Lara “take prompt regulatory action to strengthen and stabilize California’s marketplace for homeowners insurance and commercial property insurance, and to consider whether the recent sudden deterioration of the private insurance market presents facts that support emergency regulatory action.”
The state said seven of the 12 largest insurers have “paused or restricted new business” in California, which the insurance department blamed at least partially on the risk of climate change.
Insurance companies can also reward property owners for taking action to mitigate the risk of wildfires.
The rate increase approval drew criticism from a consumer advocacy group – although it wants the state to take stronger action to crack down on the free use of oil, gas and coal.
“While insurance companies have blamed climate change for their demand for higher insurance premiums, raising rates won’t do anything to address the fact that builders have carte blanche to continue building in high-risk wildfire areas,” Consumer Watchdog stated in a news release.
“Consumer Watchdog has recommended establishment of a state land use commission to address this, and that insurance companies be required to insure all homeowners who harden their homes,” the group stated. “In addition, insurers should be required to stop their contributions to climate change through underwriting and investing in fossil fuel projects.”
“Insurers have to be held to task for contributing to climate change by insuring and investing in the fossil fuel industry,” the group’s executive director stated.
However, a conservative commentator pointed out that wildfire damage is more likely due to poor management of the forest and less likely connected to climate change.
“The real catastrophe will be when even more Californians flee the state on the quest for affordable housing,” Leslie Eastman wrote at Legal Insurrection. “The saddest part of this entire idiocy is that the root cause of wildfires is poor land management practices… many of which are based on flawed eco-activism theology.”
A Federalist article drew on academic studies and commentary from land use experts to show that wildfires are being fueled by a decrease in forest management and other basic precautionary measures. Gov. Newsom also signed legislation that cut funding for “wildfire prevention and resource management,” according to The Federalist.