Suzette Martinez Valladares | California Must Solve Insurance Crisis

Suzette Martinez Valladares, Right Here, Right Now

I think we are all ready for spring. A season kicked off with the joy and hope provided by Easter, and the rebirth of wildflowers, green hillsides and warmer weather. 

And who can forget that spring marks the beginning of baseball season. I was born and raised in this community and my very first memory of sports is of the Dodgers, and by the way it is always great to see them sweep the San Francisco Giants so early in the season. 

Like so many of us, I love our community and appreciate all the great things it has to offer. The struggle, though, that so many of us have despite the tremendous positives all around us, is the growing expense burdening residents each year. This year we are beginning to see the unfortunate notices received from our homeowner’s insurance companies indicating that we will be dropped from coverage. 

A few weeks ago, insurance giant State Farm announced that it was dropping 30,000 homeowner policies in California and not renewing 42,000 commercial apartment policies. Tack this announcement on to the rising double-digit premium increases, and we are all tightening our belts and bracing for this reality. 

They aren’t the first company to scale back or exit California. 

This insurance crisis has been brewing for years. California has an elected state insurance commissioner who is charged with running the state’s consumer protection agency for the nation’s largest insurance marketplace. They are supposed to safeguard all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry.


California’s Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has been widely criticized by consumers and the insurance carriers for not acting soon enough on this crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom also shares some blame by his lack of leadership and veto pen. 

As a member of the State Assembly, I introduced Assembly Bill 2450 in 2022, which would require the California Department of Insurance to evaluate a meaningful way to lower fire insurance for home and property owners in high-wildfire-risk areas.

Californians in wildfire-prone areas are struggling to afford or even purchase basic fire insurance due to skyrocketing premiums and non-renewals. I thought it prudent to bring together all of the affected parties led by consumers, staff from the Department of the Insurance, and insurance carrier representatives to create a working plan to lower wildfire-specific premiums and improve availability. 

In the Santa Clarita Valley, we are all too familiar with destructive wildfires and their impact on residents who live in these high-risk areas. All of Santa Clarita is essentially a high-risk area. Even then we were sounding the alarm that these rising insurance premiums were costing homeowners, commercial property owners, farmers and even renters dearly. 

This piece of legislation passed overwhelmingly through the state Assembly on a bipartisan vote, 75-0. Then it went over to the State Senate and passed unanimously, 40-0. 

Despite broad support, Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill. 

And like so many other opportunities to address this issue before it hit crisis levels, there was a failure to act by the governor and State Insurance Commissioner. Now we all must face the reality of what their inaction means for homeowners and renters. 

I’ve spoken with frustrated homeowners; my husband and I are included in that group. I’ve heard from local insurance agents and brokers who want to write and renew policies for customers, some of whom they’ve taken care of for decades. It is a bad situation for everyone. 

How do we begin resolving it? I still believe that bringing customers, agents and brokers, companies, and regulators together will yield the best solution for everyone. 

Ultimately, we need insurance companies to continue to do business in California, and provide the coverage that people need — and ensure that occurs in a manner that is affordable and fair for consumers who need the security and peace of mind.

Suzette Martinez Valladares is Santa Clarita’s former assemblywoman, wife, girl mom, avid DIY’er and a monthly contributor to The Signal’s “Right, Here Right Now,” which appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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