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Fire insurance: hard to find

MOUNTAIN CENTER, Calif. - With the dry winter, protecting your home from wildfires is more important that ever. Not only clearing brush around your home, but also making sure you have fire insurance.  However, getting coverage may not be that easy.  We are hearing some insurance companies are no longer offering it.

It's become a risk insurance companies are less willing to take.

Dennis Van Buskirk, owner of Ascend Insurance, says, "Insurance is one of those things you hate paying for it, but you are sure glad you have it when you need it."

With fire danger as high as it is this year, fire insurance is a must.

"This is drier than it's ever been, I believe, and if anything happens close, it's bad," said homeowner Robert Flynn.

But getting the insurance is getting harder.  More major carriers stopped providing coverage for people living in high risk areas.

"I work with over 50 different carriers and out of those 50 different carriers, I would say 49, if not 50, make it very difficult to get homeowners insurance," said Van Buskirk.

Robert Flynn moved to Mountain Center 38 years ago.  He's now insured, but that wasn't always the case.

"It's been a hassle ever since I've been up here.  I had it through the State of California, they insured us, then the fire came through and then the people that insured us dropped us," said Flynn.
Flynn isn't the only one.  The Insurance Information Network of California says nearly 80,000 homes are considered in high or extreme risk areas in Riverside County and nearly 110,000 in San Bernardino County.

It's up to each individual insurance company to determine if it's willing to take that risk.

It's proving a challenge for real estate agent Karen Price.

"It's making people question the area, 'Should we be concerned moving up here because of fires?' and I said no that isn't a problem," said Price.
As a last resort, homeowners can get a policy from a state-mandated company, the California Fair Plan.

"It's kind of an a la carte kind of policy, but you do get coverage but its not nearly as comprehensive," said Van Buskirk.

"It kind of the sign of the times, everyone is looking to save money, unfortunately that's that," said Price.

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