California wildfire claims approach $12bn statewide: Regulator

by Artemis on February 1, 2018

The California Department of Insurance has released updated data on insurance claims filed due to the California wildfires, with the statewide total from outbreaks in both the north and south now put at close to $12 billion.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said that wildfires that burned across California in October and December 2017 damaged or destroyed more than 32,000 homes, 4,300 businesses, and over 8,200 vehicles, watercraft, farm vehicles, as well as other equipment.

“At nearly $12 billion in insured losses, these claim numbers are staggering and represent the costliest fires in California history,” said the Commissioner. “The fires were unprecedented for their severity and disastrous consequences. Whole neighborhoods were wiped out, as wind-driven flames destroyed thousands of homes, upended tens of thousands of residents’ lives and tragically killed more than 45 people across the state.”

The total recorded by the regulator is over 45,000 insurance claims totaling more than $11.79 billion in losses.

The reinsurance market has taken a significant share of these losses and insurance-linked securities (ILS) funds, collateralized reinsurance and retrocession vehicles have also paid a portion of them to-date.

The final total will likely be higher, with industry estimates of insurance and reinsurance losses due to the California wildfires pegged at around $13.2 billion by broker Aon Benfield.

Additionally and potentially exacerbating the volume of losses, the Commissioner called recently for property and casualty insurers operating in California to cover property damage claims resulting from the recent mudslides and debris flows, if the events are determined to be linked to the recent wildfires.

A number of ILS funds and collateralized reinsurance vehicles took losses from the California wildfires in October and in December 2017 and there could be further reserve strengthening to come, we’d imagine.

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