Filed Under:Risk Management, Loss Control

California wildfires expected to cause record insurance loss, Aon reports

The worst damage was noted in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Solano, Butte and Yuba counties

The California Department of Insurance cited that at least 19,000 residential, commercial and auto claims had been filed, with payouts exceed $3.32 billion. (Photo: Shutterstock)
The California Department of Insurance cited that at least 19,000 residential, commercial and auto claims had been filed, with payouts exceed $3.32 billion. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A string of wildfires in California aggregated together have become the most damaging event on record in the state, according to this month's Global Catastrophe Recap report from Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team. 

Data from Californian fire protection organization, CalFire, indicated that nearly 9,300 structures were damaged, of which more than 8,560 were destroyed. The wildfires also killed at least 43 people and injured 185 others. 

The worst damage was noted in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Solano, Butte and Yuba counties. The California Department of Insurance cited that at least 19,000 residential, commercial and auto claims had been filed, with payouts exceed $3.32 billion. The total was expected to rise as high as $8 billion as additional claims were processed. 

Related: 10 things your clients need to know about wildfires

Other weather events in October


Another significant wildfire outbreak impacted central and northern Portugal, killing at least 45 people. The Portuguese Association of Insurers stated that total insured losses were likely to reach $232 million, representing the costliest event on record for the local industry. 

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.”

Other notable events include the following:

  • Hurricane Nate impacted Central America in early October, killing at least 46 people and producing extensive material losses. The storm later caused minor damage in U.S. Gulf and Mid-Atlantic states.
  • Continuous rainfall prompted widespread flooding in China, Thailand and Vietnam, where at least 98 fatalities were reported. At least 121,000 homes were affected by flooding in Thailand alone.
  • Super Typhoon Lan caused extensive damage in Philippines and Japan with powerful winds and torrential rainfall. Total economic losses in Japan were likely to exceed $1 billion.

Related: Typhoon Damrey rocks Vietnam with historic force, AIR Worldwide finds

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