How bad is the fire insurance issue in Berkeley Hills?

We are considering to buy the house we are renting in Berkeley Hills but I'm worried about the fire insurance difficulties I have been hearing about. I definitely don't want to be buying a liability. Anyone with knowledge or experience?


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We bought our house three years ago. We were very surprised that it was hard to find home insurance. Apparently many of the big names have pulled out of the state because of the fires. We ended up with Safeco, which I believe still issues policies. However, I'm surprised this issue isn't covered more in the news and in government -- its a huge program. 

Assuming you'd need a mortgage, you won't be able to get one without getting insurance, so the liability starts before the closing.

We were looking to buy a couple of years ago, and our agent warned us to call an insurance agents before even looking at houses in the hills. I've talked with a few, all suggested I'd buy elsewhere: most companies won't write new policies anywhere that is considered a fire risk (and both Allstate and Statefarm stopped writing new policies in all of CA)

I would just reach out to an insurance agent with the address of the home to see if they can find a company willing to insure it. They can run the address to see that and give you a rough quote, even if you don’t own it. We like and use Heffernan Brignole, and they represent several companies (vs for example State Farm which is just one company, and as we’ve all heard, isn’t even opening new policies in CA anymore :( ). Good luck!

This same question came up on my neighborhood mailing list this week. We are in the Claremont area, 2 blocks from College Ave, so not quite in the "hills proper."  State Farm and Allstate have both said recently they are not writing new fire insurance policies. A number of my neighbors have existing policies with them, but they are starting to get cancelation notices. One person was able to negotiate renewal with Allstate by doing some mitigation. Another Allstate customer who was canceled found insurance with AAA that only covers about 1/3 of their house's value. A neighbor just had a 10-year Travellers policy cancelled and is looking for a fire policy.  Both Amica and State Farm denied a person who recently bought a house they had been renting, so they purchased a fire policy from Lloyds of London that only covers about 1/3 of their house's value.  Another person who just moved to the neighborhood found their only option was to buy fire insurance through the state, facilitated by Farmers which handles their homeowner's policy.  Hope that helps. It's pretty grim.