Homes in parts of the U.S. are essentially uninsurable – Millions of American homeowners like Mary Morse find themselves stuck in a financial bind, facing mounting risks from wildfires and floods linked to climate change while their home insurance rates rocket upwards. Increasingly, the crowning blow comes when insurers withdraw coverage, leaving individuals and even entire communities vulnerable.
“I got a letter from my insurance company that said, ‘We’re not going to serve your area anymore’,” Morse, 75, told CBS News about her Pine Cove, California, home. “I even sent [the insurance agent] a picture of my fire hydrant. It didn’t help.”
The growing risk of wildfire means that some parts of California are becoming “essentially ‘uninsurable’,” according to a new analysis from the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that studies climate risks, shared first with CBS News. The research has alarming implications for homeowners across the U.S., with even residents of inland states such as Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia facing sharply higher insurance costs because of increased damage from extreme weather that experts attribute in part to climate change.
About 35.6 million properties — one-quarter of all U.S. real estate — face increasing insurance prices and reduced coverage due to high climate risks, the analysis found. The rise in insurance costs isn’t merely a hit to homeowners’ budgets, however — the higher costs also devalue their properties, First Street said.