State says fire hazard map didn’t affect insurance [Baker City Herald, Ore.] – InsuranceNewsNet


Aug. 15 – Oregon insurance companies have not used and do not plan to use a controversial wildfire hazard map to determine coverage or premium costs, according to a survey released by a state agency on August 15. Friday August 12.

The results of the investigation contradict one of the complaints that prompted the Oregon Department of Forestry to withdraw the card made public June 30th.

Property owners and state lawmakers have cited cases in which residents whose property was deemed high or extreme fire risk on the map were having trouble with their insurance, including policies that didn’t. were not extended.

But the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation said in a press release on Friday that “insurance companies Oregon did not use, and currently does not intend to use, the state’s wildfire hazard map in its decision-making.”

The risk map is part of Senate Bill 762, a 2021 bill that the legislature passed and Oregon Govt. Kate Brown signed into law.

The bill addresses several issues related to wildfires in the state, including preventing wildfires and protecting rural properties from fires. The bill required the state to draw up a map, in June 30, 2022showing the forest fire risk for each of the from oregon 1.8 million tax batches.

The Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State University collaborated in the production of the map, which, in addition to the level of risk, showed which properties are found in what is known as the Wilderness-Urban Interface – WUI, the area in and near forests and routes where forest fires are more likely.

Homeowners who are both in WUI and who are at high or extreme risk could be required under Senate Bill 762 to take steps, such as tree trimming, to protect their properties. These residents may also be required to comply with stricter building codes.

But it was concern about the potential impact of the fire risk map on residents’ insurance that prompted many complaints, including from baker county two state legislators, Sen. Lynn FindleyR-Valleybe p. Mark OwensR-Crane.

State Forester Cal Mukumoto announced on August 3 that the card had been withdrawn and would be revised.

Mukumoto said the state was not aggressive enough to let the public know about the map and seek public comment on it.

As for claims that the card influences insurance companies, state officials say they are unfounded.

According to Financial Regulation Divisionbefore the state releases the map June 30thInsurance company officials told the state, in what the press called “informal discussions,” that they had no plans to use the upcoming card.

On August 2ndafter hearing residents’ concerns that the hazard map was affecting insurance coverage, the state made a formal survey of insurance companies, which they are required by state law to answer honestly, according to the press release.

The state survey asked the nearly 150 insurance companies that provide coverage for homeowners in Oregon to answer these questions:

—Does the company use the state wildfire map for pricing or underwriting?

(Underwriting determines premium costs and underwriting is the risk assessment process of offering a policy.)

—Does the company use the state wildfire map for other purposes?

—Does the company plan to use the state wildfire map for any purpose in the future?

According to the press release, all of the companies said they were not using the card for rating or underwriting, nor did they intend to use it.

The press release also noted that the state has not received any requests for insurance rate changes that include the fire hazard map as a factor.

“This confirms what we knew: insurance companies are not using the state wildfire hazard map,” the Oregon insurance commissioner said. André Stolfi said in the press release. “Insurance companies have used their own risk maps and other robust risk management tools for years to assess wildfire risk in making pricing and underwriting decisions. We believe that There has been confusion between decisions based on insurers’ continued use of their own tools, including their own risk maps, and discussions of the state’s new wildfire risk map. We encourage insurers and agents to be careful in how they describe underwriting and pricing decisions.

Consumers who have questions or complaints about insurance can contact the Financial Regulation Department Consumer Advocacy Hotline at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or file a complaint online at

On Thursday August 11the Financial Regulation Division issued a bulletin, signed by Stolfi, to all insurance companies selling home insurance policies citing concerns about companies using the wildfire risk map.

The bulletin said that although the companies denied using the card, “it may be a violation of the Insurance Code to wrongly assign rate increases or decisions to cancel coverage to the fire risk card. of state forest”.

“It is extremely important that consumers receive accurate information about decisions made regarding their policies,” the bulletin said.


(c) 2022 The Baker City Herald (Baker City, Oregon)

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