Extreme heat deadlier than wildfires, California insurance regulator says

By Camille von Kaenel | 07/02/2024 06:19 AM EDT

A first-of-its-kind analysis from Insurance Department Commissioner Ricardo Lara found that heat waves have killed nearly 460 people in California since 2013.

The sun rises amid high temperatures in Mexico City in May.

A new report from California regulators puts a spotlight on heat waves' health and economic damages. Marco Ugarte/AP

SACRAMENTO, California — Extreme heat waves have cost Californians at least $7.7 billion over the last decade and killed nearly 460 people, according to a report released Monday by California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

While nearly every Californian was somehow affected, people of color and older people suffered the most impacts to their health, according to the report.

The first-of-its kind analysis by the Insurance Department shows the staggering and wide-ranging impacts of extreme heat right at the beginning of a week of triple digit temperatures that will bake inland California.


It also comes a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget that eliminated millions of dollars previously planned for cooling and resilience centers and a program to track heat-related hospital visits. Lawmakers over the weekend released proposed language for a climate bond on the November ballot that would raise around $400 million for extreme heat programs — including $100 million for resilience centers — if approved by voters.