Insurers are often reluctant to issue fire insurance policies to residents of such hard-to-protect areas as inaccessible canyons and brushy hillsides. Sometimes they refuse altogether to write a policy.
But homeowners in high-risk areas can obtain fire insurance under the California Fair Plan, a clearinghouse set up by the state in 1968 under which more than 220 insurance companies take on assigned homeowners.
"We were set up simply to spread the risk," said Michael Harris, a spokesman for the plan. "We are available, accessible and affordable."
Sixty percent of all the California Fair Plan premiums are for properties located in brushy areas prone to fire, but the group writes less than 2% of all fire insurance in the state.