Put out the fire on home insurance


Last updated 5/7/2024 at 9:08am

Fire and fire insurance are top of mind in Sisters. No wonder – because of devastating wildfires, Oregon homeowners face soaring premiums and few property insurance options. Some have had their policies canceled when they came up for renewal, and some insurers no longer write new policies.

If the insurance companies tag your home with the label “high risk” you may be forced to get coverage from our state’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan, insurance of last resort. But that will be a costly outcome – the plan is very expensive and out of reach for many Oregonians.

Home insurance in parts of Oregon has begun to look more like California’s, where some of the largest insurance companies in the country are no longer renewing or writing new policies, and where the number of people turning to their state-backed insurer of last resort has doubled in recent years.

Here in Central Oregon, this is the last problem we need. We’re already facing ever-increasing home costs and higher utility bills. In the legislature next year, we pledge to stand up for Sisters Country and work to have the efforts we’ve made to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire be reflected in your fire insurance premiums and availability. Thankfully, we have an excellent partner in County Commissioner Phil Chang who is a champion for wildfire resilience throughout Central Oregon.

Rep. Emerson Levy has championed and worked to fund the very tools that Phil has advocated for over the last few decades for Sisters wildfire resilience.

Bend City Councilor and Senate District 27 candidate Anthony Broadman serves with Phil on the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, where we work to prevent catastrophic wildfire, sustain recreational opportunities, and ensure jobs, quality habitat, and clean drinking water. The Collaborative represents the Central Oregon way of showing up and working together. We all show up to make our forests more climate and fire resilient: environmentalists, businesspeople, professional foresters, research scientists, loggers, outdoors lovers, private landowners, elected officials, tribal members, recreational users, and government policymakers.

While we’ve made great strides in hardening our communities from the risk of wildfires, we now need to work to ensure that insurance companies recognize all our hard work and reflect that understanding in their policies and rates.

Here again, Phil’s on the job. In this last legislative session, he advocated for a bill that would create a grant program to protect our homes from wildfires and then would offer state certification and force insurers to recognize that certification.

That’s work we have to do for Sisters in 2025. And we have to ensure the FAIR program is better funded and less expensive for those that need it. You can be sure we both will work alongside Phil to make that happen.

Emerson Levy is the State Representative for District 53, which includes Sisters. Anthony Broadman is a Bend City Councilor and a candidate for the State Senate in Oregon District 27, which also includes Sisters.


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