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Some Insurance Companies Refuse New Policies In Western Montana Wildfire Areas

Missoula Nissan
Lolo Peak Fire

As the fire season has ravaged parts of western Montana, it has also affected the real estate market, in that some insurance companies are refusing to offer policies in some zones affected by wildfires.

Kyle Schmautz, spokesman for Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale, said he has received questions from Missoula area realtors about the practice.

“It’s very common for insurance policies when it comes to natural disasters, whether it be fires or floods, that insurers won’t write new policies, or won’t renew them, if properties are immediately threatened by a natural disaster,” Schmauch said. “That being said, we are operating under an advisory memo from the previous administration, still in effect today, that insurance companies cannot refuse to write insurance policies based on a generic geographical location. That means they can’t decide not to write policies for all of Montana, or all of Missoula County, Ravalli County, or for a specific zip code.”

Schmauch said each company has its own policy on how to determine the risk of insurance a property from wildfire.

“If someone thinks that the company’s insurance refusal is not justified, and that the property is not actually threatened by the fire and they’re being denied coverage, then that would be the time to get in touch with our office and we could look into that,” he said. “We’ve already done one in Stevensville where we got that insurer to reverse their decision because that particular property was quite far from the potential fire hazard.”

Anyone who feels they have been denied coverage, or had their coverage removed unfairly is invited to contact the Office of the State Insurance Commissioner at 1-800-332-6148, or get more details on their website. 

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