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California insured wildfire losses could reach $13B: AIR

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Industry insured losses from the Camp and Woolsey fires in California will total $9 billion to $13 billion, with the Camp Fire running $6 billion to $9 billion, according to catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide, the Boston-based firm said in a statement Thursday.

The Camp Fire has now become both the deadliest and the most destructive single wildfire in California history, according to AIR. The fire began Nov. 8 near Camp Creek Road in Butte County and wasn’t fully contained until Nov. 25.

It has burned 153,336 acres and destroyed more than 18,700 structures, including 13,696 single-family homes, 276 multifamily homes, 528 commercial structures and 4,293 other structures, AIR said.

The loss estimates were generated by the AIR Wildfire Model for the United States and are based on exposures as of the end of 2017, the statement said.

The modeled insured loss estimates for the Camp Fire include insured physical damage to property (residential, mobile home and commercial), both structures and their contents, and auto; direct business interruption losses; and demand surge, which is the estimated increase in costs of materials, services and labor due to increased demand following a catastrophic event.

Also Thursday, Aon’s Impact Forecasting said in a statement that insurance claim payouts for wildfires are set to exceed $10 billion in the United States for the second year running.

“With annual wildfire industry payouts expected to exceed USD10 billion for the second consecutive year in the United States, the standard assumption of wildfire being a secondary peril may evolve in the future,” Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said in the statement.

“These heightened losses put a further spotlight on the growing risk of the peril around the world,” he said. “The growth of exposure into known fire locations and the prospect of more weather and climate-driven effects will require continued focus on mitigation initiatives.”