California wildfires costliest on record


The recent California wildfires are expected to be the costliest ever for insurers, according to Aon Benfield’s catastrophe reports. Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, Impact Forecasting, has launched the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Report, revealing that the blazes – which included the Central LNU Complex Fire around the town of Santa Rosa – are the most damaging event on record for the state.

The report states that the wildfires killed at least 43 people and injured 185 others, damaging nearly 9,300 structures in the process. The California Department of Insurance said that at least 19,000 residential, commercial and auto claims had been filed, with payouts exceeding $3.32 billion. The counties of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Solano, Butte and Yuba were found to have suffered the most damage in the fires.

The report concluded that the total costs for the insurance industry could rise as high as $8 billion, making the event the costliest insured wildfire ever recorded.

The wildfires in Portugal also caused a significant loss for the insurance industry, with a total of €200 million ($232 million) insurance damages representing the costliest major event for the local insurance industry in Portugal, according to the Portuguese Association of Insurers.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: “In a year already marked by elevated catastrophe losses, October continued in the same vein. Historic wildfire events in Portugal and California are poised to make October the costliest month for the insurance industry ever recorded for the peril. The multi-billion-dollar payout in California alone highlights the enormity of the event footprint as assessments and restoration efforts continue across the state.”