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Wildfire property toll rises further, now 17,354 structures destroyed


The number of residential, commercial and other properties lost to the ongoing wildfire outbreak in California has risen by another 12% since yesterday, with the total number of structures reported as destroyed reaching 17,354, suggesting the industry loss for insurance, reinsurance and ILS market interests keeps rising.

Wildfire industry lossesYesterday, we reported that 15,489 structures had been destroyed by the Camp, Woolsey and Hill wildfires across the state of California.

Overnight the numbers have risen further and now Cal Fire authorities say that the total stands at 17,354 structures completely destroyed, with another 819 damaged by the multiple blazes.

Yesterday, catastrophe risk modelling specialist estimated that the eventual insurance and reinsurance industry loss from the Camp and Woolsey wildfires would reach between $9 billion and $13 billion.

But now an additional 1,865 destroyed buildings and properties needs to be factored in, suggesting the eventual loss will be shifting further towards the upper-end of that range, likely moving well past the $10 billion mark and now approaching the top-end of $13 billion.

The numbers of properties destroyed by these wildfires keeps on increasing and it’s not due to fresh burns, but rather that the extent of the fires has made assessing the damage a long and difficult process for authorities. In addition the fire authorities are dealing with significant numbers of deaths and missing persons, as the tragic toll of the Camp wildfire in particular becomes clearer.

Of the structures and buildings destroyed, the Camp wildfire now accounts for: 11,713 single residential properties destroyed (up from 10,364 yesterday) and 380 damaged; 277 multiple residences destroyed (up from 259); 472 commercial properties destroyed (up from 418) and 96 damaged; and 3,388 other minor structures destroyed (up from 2,992).

The Woolsey wildfire meanwhile accounts for; 1,500 structures destroyed (up from 1,452) and 341 damaged.

In addition the insurance, reinsurance and ILS market has to factor in additional vectors of wildfire insurable loss, including automotive business lines, demand surge, business interruption, content claims and additional living-expense claims for those who have lost their homes, making it clear that the total will be rising within the latest estimate range.

There are now also concerns as rain is forecast and where the ground has been burned and cleared the risk of landslides is a possibility, particularly in the Woolsey fire area.

Meanwhile, electrical utility PG&E has reported another incident of a power line outage that occurred on the morning the Camp wildfire began, raising the potential for its equipment being deemed liable for causing the blaze.

It remains an expectation that if found liable the utility will erode all of its $1.4 billion of insurance protection, including the $200 million Cal Phoenix Re catastrophe bond. That cat bond has already been marked down as a likely loss by the market.

Read our previous coverage of this wildfire outbreak:

Mutual & listed ILS funds decline further on wildfire threat.

Modest wildfire impact possible for Pioneer ILS Interval Fund.

Cat bond funds take NAV hit on wildfire cat bond write-down.

RMS puts Camp & Woolsey wildfire losses at up to $13 billion.

California wildfire losses rising, destruction nears 15,500 structures.

PG&E’s wildfire cat bond marked down for loss, traded at distressed price.

USAA cat bond & private ILS also at risk of wildfire losses: Twelve Capital.

PG&E sued over Camp wildfire, putting Cal Phoenix Re cat bond in the frame.

Wildfires could cost insurers $5bn to $10bn: Credit Suisse analysts.

Wildfires to drive up to $6bn industry insured loss – Moody’s.

Wildfire losses to hit record in 2018, pricing needs to change: A.M. Best.

Stone Ridge & CATCo fund prices dented by California wildfire threat.

Cat bond price volatility & discounts expected from wildfires: Plenum.

California wildfire most destructive ever, multi-billion losses expected.

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