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Verisk 2021 wildfire risk analysis provides updated data on rising threat

Widespread drought is fueling another active year for wildfires in the United States, with elevated risk in the most vulnerable states, particularly California.

Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis

The 2021 wildfire season has already become notable for its far-reaching effects.

Hazy skies as far away as the East Coast and smoke affecting Lake Tahoe’s tourist attractions have made numerous headlines. This year also saw the first fires—the Dixie and Caldor Fires—travel across the Sierra Nevada range.1 Additional changes to the wildfire risk landscape include areas of reduced risk after the very active 2020 wildfire season, including in Mariposa and Nevada counties.

So far in 2021, there have been over 47,000 wildfire incidents affecting 6.4 million acres. As wildfire risk grows in scope and severity, robust and informed data on at-risk areas is increasingly important. Fully understanding the peril of wildfire and the primary risk factors involved is crucial to accurate property underwriting. FireLine® Risk Reports can help keep you informed about the location and number of at-risk properties.

Analysis reveals wildfire risk remains high

FireLine analyzes wildfire risk by examining the principal factors affecting wildfire spread, including how much vegetation is available to fuel a fire, the way slopes direct heat, the availability of road access for firefighters to contain the flames, and how winds allow embers to spark new outbreaks. Recent updates for California, Washington, and Oregon show that risk levels remain a concern in 2021, with millions of properties at risk.

The updated FireLine report for California shows that 2 million housing units—15 percent of the state’s total—are at high and extreme risk of wildfire. Another 1.6 million, or 12 percent, are at moderate risk.

The percentage of at-risk properties introduces another consideration for many insurers: Reconstruction costs. If a property is damaged by wildfire and needs repair or replacement, it is important to understand the full cost associated. Verisk data via 360Value shows that, across the top five at-risk counties in California, average reconstruction costs have increased 10.12 percent from August 2020 to August 2021.

Get updated data to stay current on the risk

Verisk works with the insurance industry and organizations dedicated to wildfire prevention and preparedness to further understanding of this growing peril. FireLine Risk Reports evaluate wildfire risk at the address level using advanced remote sensing and digital mapping technology to assess the primary factors contributing to wildfire risk. In addition, Verisk devotes extensive study and support to multiple aspects of community- and property-level mitigation measures, including defensible space and structure hardening. Reports are available for the 13 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces most at risk from wildfire.

Download FireLine State Risk Reports to see where wildfire risk is highest.


Dr. Arindam Samanta

Dr. Arindam Samanta is director of product management at Verisk. He can be reached at Arindam.Samanta@verisk.com.


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