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Insurers have received nearly 45,000 claims totaling $11.8 billion in losses from the devastating wildfires that burned across California in October and December, according to California’s Insurance Commissioner.
“At nearly $12 billion in insured losses, these claim numbers are staggering and represent the costliest fires in California history," Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in the statement Wednesday. "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.”
Mr. Jones issued several directives in the wake of the wildfires, including issuing a formal notice to insurers asking them to waive the requirement for policyholders to submit a detailed home inventory and pay up to 100% of contents coverage to spare survivors from having to recreate lists of every item they lost in the fires. Insurers that agreed to his request constitute more than 98% of the total loss claims filed because of the 2017 wildfires, with the department continuing to communicate with insurers that have not agreed to increase their advance payment on contents claims to determine if they will reconsider their position.
Losses from California wildfires during the fourth quarter will be within insurers’ risk tolerances but may pose separate challenges for insurers, according to a report from A.M. Best Co. Inc. Wednesday.