Recent wildfire seasons are a reminder of how dynamic the threat can be as property insurers gear up for what 2020 may bring. Last year saw a slight pullback in fire activity after a pair of extraordinarily busy seasons, but the long-term trend has been upward.
In California, for example, wildfire burned nearly 260,000 acres in 2019,1 down sharply from more than 1.8 million in 2018 and nearly 1.3 million in 2017, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). Compared to preceding years with thousands of structures lost and billions of dollars in losses, 2019 showed a dip in the trend of destruction. Nationally, about 4 million acres burned in 2019,2 but totals were in the range of 8 to 10 million acres in five of the years from 2011 to 2018, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC). Although risk may fluctuate year to year, it’s still prevalent. Verisk estimates there are more than 4.5 million U.S. properties at high to extreme risk of wildfire, with 2 million of those properties in California alone.
In the face of a growing threat fueled by human encroachment on wildlands and the effects of climate change, understanding best practices can help insurers manage their risk exposure. Solutions such as FireLine®, Verisk’s wildfire risk management tool, can play a role in a comprehensive approach to this hazard.
Along with tracking risk exposure and the primary contributing factors, it’s also important to understand mitigation efforts. Verisk supports research and education to reduce the scope and severity of wildfire losses through mitigation, as demonstrated by collaboration and partnerships with experts in the field.
Verisk recently hosted a webinar, Best Practices for Wildfire Risk Management and Mitigation, in coordination with PropertyCasualty360. A replay of the presentation is now available on demand.
- National Report of Wildland Fires and Acres Burned by State, National Interagency Fire Center, < https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/intelligence/2019_statssumm/fires_acres19.pdf >, accessed on March 4, 2020.
- Incident Management Situation Report, National Interagency Coordination Center, December 20, 2019, < https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/IMSR/2019/20191220IMSR.pdf >, accessed on March 4, 2020.