Senator Susan Rubio Bill to Protect California Farms from Wildfires Passes Legislature, Heads to Governor for Final Approval
SACRAMENTO – In an unanimous, bipartisan vote, the California Legislature today passed a bill by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) that would help protect farms unable to obtain insurance due to devastating wildfires. The Legislature added an urgency clause to Senate Bill 11, which if signed by the Governor, would make it effective immediately.
“In order for California to remain the breadbasket of the world, we have to support and protect our farms in the face of devastating wildfires,” Senator Rubio said. “With SB 11, thousands of farmers will be helped by allowing them to obtain coverage through the FAIR Plan. I want to thank my colleagues for their unanimous, bipartisan support. Without insurance, farmers cannot access loans to update equipment, plant their crop, or pay workers, putting their farm at risk of closing. Ensuring farmers can access the FAIR Plan for coverage like any other business is a critical step.”
Unlike most businesses, farms are excluded from the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan, which serves as a coverage of last resort. SB 11 will amend California law to allow the FAIR Plan to sell commercial coverage to farms. With wildfire losses continuing to make insurance in the private insurance market harder to find, SB 11 helps farmers and growers to find the necessary insurance they need to remain in business. The urgency clause requires the Plan to immediate begin work on submitting a rate filing offering this coverage to the Department of Insurance.
"With the passage of Senate Bill 11, California's farmers and ranchers are one step closer to having a property insurance option of last resort,” Jamie Johansson, President - California Farm Bureau Federation. “California's FAIR Plan provides added protection for those farmers and ranchers that have found their insurance policies canceled or non-renewed. Given the current wildfire challenges facing California, our agricultural community is fearful of what may happen this year. We have already faced significant wildfire losses, and so too have our rural communities. We thank Senator Rubio for championing this legislation to protect California's farmers and ranchers. It's critical that Governor Newsom signs the legislation and support the efforts of the agricultural community, insurance companies and California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to find a viable solution.”
“Thanks to the leadership of Senator Susan Rubio and collaboration with the California Farm Bureau and the California Department of Insurance, SB 11 will expand critical insurance coverage options for commercial farms in California and offer much-needed peace of mind for farmers in our state,” said Anneliese Jivan, president of the FAIR Plan. “We encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to sign SB 11 when this measure reaches his desk.”
The bill clarifies existing California insurance law to ensure that permanent structures used primarily for the production of commercial agricultural commodities or livestock are eligible for basic property insurance via the FAIR Plan. These changes fulfill one of the core purposes underlying the original establishment of the California FAIR Plan in 1968 – to ensure the availability of basic property insurance in the state to all Californians.
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