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Wildfires in California caused homeowners cancellation of their insurance policies

Source: Orange County Register

Wildfires cause turmoil in California’s property insurance market. Thousands of homeowners have lost their insurance policies in the last few years as insurers pull out of areas that are at risk of fire damage or stop insuring homes altogether. They’ve been forced to scramble to find coverage from regular insurance providers or to turn as a last resort to a government-sanctioned plan that at the moment only provides fire coverage. State Farm, the largest insurer in the state, Allstate and other insurers declined to renew roughly 350,000 policies in areas at high risk for wildfires since 2015 the California Department of Insurance said back in August, and the department has gotten “record numbers” of requests this year from insurers to increase the rates they charge property owners. The data also show 33,000 policies were not renewed by insurers in zip codes affected by the major wildfires.While the insurance industry says the California property insurance market is resilient, state lawmakers and officials have had to scramble to keep the market from grinding to a halt from the unexpected additional risk.

Making sense of the story:

•The wildfires in California will likely make it more difficult for California homeowners to buy insurance.

•The California Legislature passed a law earlier this year giving the Department of Insurance emergency powers to keep policies in effect for those in fire-prone areas.

•Premiums are likely to go up, particularly in areas that are prone to wildfires and in some cases, it may be difficult for consumers to find an insurer willing to write their insurance.

•While some insurers are pulling out and others are reconsidering how they price property insurance, it is still available in one form or another to every homeowner, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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While you were sleeping: LA bans “granny flats” as Airbnbs

TRD LOS ANGELES /

City law set to prevent new “granny flats” as short-term rentals

Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky. A new city law would limit so-called granny flats from being posted on Airbnb. (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. A new city law would limit so-called granny flats from being posted on the short-term rental platform. (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Los Angeles’s law policing short-term rentals goes into effect Friday, and one crucial component is being overlooked: A ban on using newly constructed accessory dwelling units as short-term rentals.

Construction of accessory dwelling units – a.k.a. ADU’s, a.k.a. granny flats, or in-law flats – has exploded the last few years. At least some of these are posted on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, though no one yet has a count.

Depending on one’s perspective, the ban could be a needless blow to single-family homeowners and future development, or a necessary measure that could be difficult to enforce.

From ADU to Airbnb

ADUs – which are backyard dwellings or converted garages built adjacent to single-family units – started playing a bigger role in L.A.’s housing stock in 2017. That was when the city conformed to a California law easing ADU construction restrictions, including almost doubling the cap on ADU space to 1,200 square feet.

The effect was immediate. In 2016, the city of L.A. saw 299 permits for ADU construction, according to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. The number of permits skyrocketed to 3,818 in the first three quarters of 2017, per Terner, and there have been about 13,000 additional permit requests over the last two years.

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