As California homeowners struggle to insure their homes against increasing fire risks driven by climate change, new research reveals the air pollution caused by the state’s 2018 wildfires killed more than 36 times the official death toll. Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels, is increasing the size, frequency, intensity and seasonality of wildfires. Private insurers have fled the market in recent years because of rising wildfire claims, causing thousands of Californians to lose their insurance. This has forced them to buy coverage from the state’s “insurer of last resort,” the California FAIR Plan. FAIR Plan premiums are already two- to three-times more expensive than private plans, and rates are about to rise more than 15%. Rural homeowners will bear substantially higher costs, while urban homeowners will see little-to-no increase. The rate hikes come as new research, published Tuesday in Nature Sustainability, projects 3,652 people were killed by pollution caused by California’s 2018 wildfires — far more than the official death toll of 106. (Insurance: Sacramento Bee $; Deaths: Earther, E&E $; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, 2018 Western Wildfire Season)