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The combination and number of wildfires, coupled with the challenges of COVID-19, has created a shortage of builders to do repair work. This has had an impact on claims as policyholders retain builders, who are now charging a premium due to high demand, <i>(Credit: David Paul Morris</i> The combination and number of wildfires, coupled with the challenges of COVID-19, has created a shortage of builders to do repair work. This has had an impact on claims as policyholders hire builders, who are now charging a premium due to high demand. (Credit: David Paul Morris)

The past year was a challenging one in many ways, and the wildfire devastation in the Western United States was no exception. More than 4.1 million acres burned across the state of California in 2020, nearly one million of which have gone up in flames since mid-September. In northern Colorado, the Cameron Peak fire was the largest in Colorado’s recorded history, consuming over 206,000 acres (320 square miles) in the mountains west and northwest of Fort Collins and Estes Park. And in Arizona, the 2020 wildfire season burned just under 955,000 acres, totaling more than double the 520,000 acres that burned in the 3,627 fires over the previous two years combined.

With record-breaking losses to account for, what will the claims lessons and insurance implications of the 2020 wildfire season be? While that’s a question that we will only fully be able to answer in hindsight, here are three trends to watch.

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