Nevada County Homeowners Losing Insurance Over Fire Risk

NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) —The threat of wildfires breaking out in Nevada County has homeowners sounding the alarm over their insurance plans.

Many are seeing their insurance carriers discontinuing coverage because of extreme fire risk.

“I’ve got 26-and-a-half-acres,” Nevada County homeowner Tim O’Connor said.

Tim O’Connor built his home in his dream location, surrounded by trees near the Tahoe National Forest. You might remember O’Connor, now 90 and retired, from his career as a television and film actor. He played a leading role in the drama “Peyton’s Place.”

Now a real-life drama: His homeowner’s insurance was canceled on this mountain home.

“They just dropped me, and because we were in such a forested area, and so susceptible to these forest fires,” O’Connor said.

Despite the defensible space around his home, sprinklers on his roof, and a well with 11,000 gallons of water, O’Connor’s insurance company determined his home’s fire risk is too high.

“I think, yeah, disappointing would be a good word,” Fire Safe Council of Nevada County Joanne Drummond said.

Drummond says insurance companies are not looking at homes on a case-by-case basis. Instead, extreme fire danger has them pulling out of policies across California, forcing homeowners to seek specialized policies that cost thousands more.

“When you put your home on the market and someone makes an offer and then they find out it’s $1,000 a month for insurance — that’s a deal killer, Drummond said.

In Nevada County, a survey showed one in seven homeowners had their policies dropped in the past three years. That number now includes Tim O’Connor. Living out his retirement in his dream house, just got more expensive.

“Well I’d like to see them look at it more carefully,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor says his new expensive insurance is going to be up in another 10 months. After that, he doesn’t know how much more he’ll have to pay.

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