California adopts $ 20 million ‘controlled burn’ insurance backstop
After fire professionals were excluded or excluded from the private insurance market, California adopted a multi-million dollar safety net for municipalities and public entities that perform “prescribed burns” in the state. .
The new program, called the Prescribed Burn Liability Pilot Program, will spend $ 20 million to pay for damages in the event a burn causes damage.
Prescribed fires have become an essential tool for forest fire professionals looking to reduce combustible fuels and manage landscapes at risk. Despite their usefulness, the risk of prescribed burn leaks beyond prescribed fire lines has pushed up insurance rates.
Research from Stanford University has found that limited or unusually expensive liability insurance coverage is a major obstacle to conducting prescribed burns in the state.
“If we are to reduce the frequency and destructiveness of forest fires, we must eliminate fuels from our forests and dry woods,” said the sponsor of the bill, Senator Bill Dodd. “Prescribed burning is a proven solution to this growing problem. I am delighted to see this happen and I thank my fellow parliamentarians for supporting this worthwhile investment. “
The new law establishes a pilot program to provide liability insurance to fire professionals who use controlled burns which, in rare cases, burn uncontrollably. The lawmaker said wildfire professionals were unable to pay increasing insurance premiums. He added that the facility will serve as a “backstop” for the private insurance market.
“The lack of insurance has become increasingly limiting for prescribed burning in California, even as the state increases its prescribed burn commitments and investments,” said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, director of Northern California Preferred Fire Council.
The legislation was pushed by Nature Conservancy, which touted the new law.
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