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Insurance Companies Try to Cut Losses in Wildfire Hotspots

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Devastating wildfire seasons have the nation's top insurers inspecting homes in high-risk areas, including Utah, and threatening to cancel coverage if owners don't clear brush or take other precautions.

Since last year, Allstate insurance has been checking new applicants in Utah, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. They began checking homes in Arizona in 2004 and will NOT underwrite new homeowner policies in California.

The inspections have angered homeowners and watchdog groups that accuse the companies of trying to cut risk at the expense of customers, even while industry profits soar.

The requirements can range from forcing homeowners to clear brush or cut down trees around their home to installing a fireproof roof.

Insurers say making people take responsibility for living in the highest-risk fire areas makes good business sense.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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