Insurers Could Drop Fire Coverage in California

California wildfires continue to scorch the Golden State’s southern cities, and now officials in the state fear that some insurers will drop homeowners’ coverage.

Wildfires in Southern California and earlier this fall in northern California have resulted in billions of dollars in claims. In the Sierra Nevada foothills, many homes were dropped after wildfires swept through in recent years, and some northern California homes also have seen their coverage dropped, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told Reuters.

“We may see more of it,” Jones cautions.   Wow, don’t most insurance companies cover more than just California?

PS: Insurers are required to renew fire victims’ policies once. After that, homeowners could then be forced to go to specialty insurers, known as “surplus line carriers.”  Those policies can sometimes cost up to 40 percent more!

Source: “As California Fires Blaze, Homeowners Fear Losing Insurance,” Reuters/CNBC (Dec. 18, 2017)

Wildfire Victims Get ‘Mortgage Reprieve’

Homeowners affected by the California wildfires may be eligible to defer their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued guidelines for wildfire victims with single-family mortgages.

Victims may be eligible to stop making mortgage payments in three-month intervals, up to 12 months. They also may be eligible to avoid late fees during this temporary payment break, and to not have delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus.

Mortgage servicers have been authorized by Fannie and Freddie to suspend or reduce a homeowner’s mortgage payments immediately for up to 90 days without any contact from the homeowner if the servicer believes the homeowner has been affected by the disaster. For any additional payment forbearance of up to 12 months, homeowners will need to reach out to their lenders. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide disaster relief information.

Also, HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and now face the task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers with FHA-approved lenders may be eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs.

Source: “HUD Announces Disaster Help for Wildfire Victims,” Napa Valley Register (Oct. 19, 2017); “Fannie Mae Reminds Homeowners and Servicers of Mortgage Assistance Options for Areas Affected by California Wildfires,” Fannie Mae (Oct. 13, 2017); “Freddie Mac Confirms Disaster Relief Policies Amid California Wildfires,” Freddie Mac (Oct. 13, 2017)