With today’s approval by the Assembly Insurance Committee, a bill to improve fire-insurance options for farmers and ranchers moved one step closer to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Senate Bill 11—sponsored by the California Farm Bureau and carried by Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, would authorize the state’s insurer of last resort, the California FAIR Plan, to underwrite insurance coverage for commercial farms and ranches. The bill now advances to the full Assembly.
“With all signs pointing to another severe wildfire season, it’s crucial for SB 11 to gain passage as soon as possible,” California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said. “Farmers and ranchers in wildfire-prone regions are having their insurance policies canceled and often can’t find replacement coverage. It’s an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.”
The FAIR Plan provides basic property insurance for customers who can’t acquire insurance in the open market—but its current provisions don’t allow coverage for farm structures or equipment. State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has endorsed SB 11 and has been meeting with farmers and ranchers around the state to discuss the breadth of the insurance problem at roundtable discussions organized by county Farm Bureaus.
“Better access to wildfire insurance is a pressing priority for many Farm Bureau members,” Johansson said, “and SB 11 will be one part of the solution. Farm Bureau has also worked with the insurance commissioner’s office and the insurance industry to offer a ‘difference in conditions’ policy that fills gaps for farmers when they qualify for FAIR Plan coverage.”
Johansson said Farm Bureau will “continue to attack this problem from every possible angle,” including state and federal initiatives to manage forests and reduce wildfire fuel.