A car stands amidst rubble after the Lilac Fire destroys a Fallbrook home. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the August 22 Morning Report. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox.

Last year, insurance companies cancelled 14,225 homeowners policies across San Diego, in part due to rising wildfire risk, according to new data from the state’s Department of Insurance.

The data gives perhaps the clearest picture yet of how insurance companies are reacting to rising wildfire risk. Statewide, insurers cancelled – the industry term is “non-renewed” – policies for nearly 170,000 homeowners.

While that is quite a lot of homes, there are over eight million homes in the state and homeowners themselves were far more likely to change insurers than insurers were to dump homeowners. About 730,000 homeowners switched insurance companies or decided not to renew their own policy in 2018, according to the department.

Over the past four years, there’s been an upward tick in non-renewals but nothing major. In 2015, for instance, insurers decided not to renew 13,670 policies in San Diego.

However, the data does not capture the reaction by insurers following last November’s Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.

In a statement, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said the data should be a wake-up call because trouble finding insurance can “create a domino effect for the local economy, affecting home sales and property taxes.”

Home insurance policies generally last a year and are required for anyone with a mortgage.

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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