Although its sandy beaches and ancient Redwood and Sequoia forests make it an ideal place for homeowners looking to settle down, California is not without its dangers. As of September 2022, California has experienced 6456 wildfire incidents that have burned 364,883 acres of land. If you live in the Sunshine State, it's important to consider investing in a good homeowners insurance policy that will provide reparations in the event of a catastrophe. But what if you're having trouble because you're in a high-risk area? This is where the California FAIR Plan policy comes into play.
California FAIR Plan Policy: Here’s what you need to know
Table of contents:
What is the California FAIR Plan policy?
The California FAIR Plan was created in 1968 to ensure that all homeowners can obtain basic home insurance coverage, regardless of their risk level. It is an insurance association that offers coverage to high-risk homeowners and renters who are unable to secure coverage through a traditional insurer.
Through the California FAIR Plan, all licensed insurance companies in the state are required to participate. The FAIR plan issues policies on behalf of these companies, which share in both profits and losses commensurate with their overall market share. As homes in wildfire-prone areas are too high-risk to insure on the private market, the California FAIR Plan eases the coverage debacle for homeowners.
What is covered under the California FAIR Plan policy?
California's FAIR Plan offers basic coverage with its standard policy since it is meant to be a temporary safety net, a last-resort option in case you fail to find protection elsewhere. If you desire additional coverages that are available in standard homeowners insurance policies, you’ll have to purchase add-ons or separate policies at an additional charge.
Fair Plan policies are capped at $3 million for all coverages. You also cannot insure your property for more than the cost of rebuilding.
Perils covered by the California FAIR Plan
The standard California FAIR Plan policy coverage is for your home or property against damages from:
Perils not covered by the California Fair Plan
The following perils are not covered by the California FAIR Plan:
- Hails or windstorms
- Volcanic eruptions
- Falling objects
- Weight of sleet, ice, or snow
- Accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
Add-ons available through the California FAIR Plan
If you need more comprehensive protection, then you can add on the following coverages at an additional cost to your California FAIR Plan policy.
- Extended dwelling coverage: This covers your home from wind, hail, explosion, falling aircraft, civil commotion and volcanic eruptions.
- Vandalism: This covers your home and property from malicious mischief or vandalism.
- Other structures: Coverage on additional structures on your property like a shed, guest house, detached garage, detached patios, mailboxes, barns, etc.
- Fair rental value: This coverage pays out lost rental income when your property is being repaired as a result of a covered loss.
- Earthquake insurance: This covers your home and property from earthquakes through a separate earthquake insurance policy bought through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).
- Personal property replacement cost coverage: This insures your belongings at their replacement cost, without including deprecation.
- Dwelling replacement cost coverage: This insures your home at its replacement cost, without including deprecation.
- Ordinance or law: It covers mandatory structural updates in adherence to local building ordinances.
- Inflation guard protection: It is an automatic annual increase in property values to keep up with the rising costs of inflation, construction, and labor.
Who can apply for the California FAIR Plan policy?
California FAIR Plan policy is offered to owners of manufactured homes, condos, as well as businesses looking to get insured. It is also available to renters, including seasonal renters as well as condominium unit owners.
Who cannot apply for the California FAIR Plan policy?
As per the FAIR plan, the following will not be provided coverage:
- Vacant homes that remain unoccupied for about 50% of the year
- Homes with existing damages that are yet to be repaired,
- Homes that are tied to illegal activity as per state and federal laws
How to apply for a California FAIR Plan Policy?
Applying for the California FAIR Plan policy is fairly easy. But it is not similar to getting a traditional home insurance policy. Here’s how you do it:
1. Search for a credible provider
While the California FAIR plan can be purchased directly from the FAIR plan’s website, you can also apply for it through a registered and licensed broker in the state. It is to be noted that brokers DO NOT collect a fee when selling FAIR plan insurance policies as they do with standard home policies.
2. Determine your eligibility
Simply owning a home in California will not make you eligible for the FAIR plan policy. Your broker will conduct a thorough examination of data before qualifying you for the FAIR plan policy. They want to make sure you don't qualify for traditional coverage before proceeding with the FAIR Plan application.
3. Fill in the application form
In case you are working with a broker, they will help you fill in the application form by guiding you in choosing a suitable amount of coverage and endorsements as well as calculating a fair market value of your home. Once the application is completed, you will receive an instant quote rate. You need to note that if you apply for a FAIR plan without a broker, you will not be able to get an immediate price estimate.
4. Schedule a home inspection
A home inspection may be scheduled by a representative from the FAIR Plan to better understand your home’s insurability. For instance, if your home is located in an area highly susceptible to wildfires, then it may impact the amount of coverage you may receive.
5. Pay the first month’s premium
After your application has been approved, pay your first premium and you're covered!
What payment options are available to me to pay California FAIR Plan premiums?
Payments can be made by direct deposits from a savings or checking account (ACH Payment). Payments can also be made by cash, check or money order. However, you cannot pay for the coverage with a credit card.
Are wildfires covered by California FAIR Plan?
Yes. The basic policy coverage the California FAIR Plan offers is for smoke and fire damages due to wildfires.
Does California FAIR Plan offer any discounts?
California FAIR Plan offers one discount only for properties in a fire-wise community. You may be able to secure a lower premium if your home is protected with fire-proof materials that may prevent wildfire damage.
How long does a California FAIR Plan policy last?
Policies are usually written for one year. After which, it may be worth looking for affordable homeowners insurance on the private market again.
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