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White Paper

2022 Wildfire Risks Report

Understanding, assessing and managing wildfire risk

October 25, 2022

A report summarizing the key points relating to wildfire exposures, highlighting some areas that organizations may want to consider, and how we can assist you with managing wildfire risk.
Casualty|Climate|Facultative|Property
Climate and Resilience Hub|Climate Risk and Resilience

Wildfire risk has become a topic of increasing concern in the insurance market, due to the increasing rate and severity of fires.

This is compounded by the difficulties underwriters face in the identification and quantification of wildfire loss potential.

A general drive towards increased model completeness over recent years – as part of necessary and best practice exposure management processes – has seen the rise of wildfire risk modeling techniques but, as with any model – and, in particular, those in their infancy – the uncertainty around the true quantification of wildfire risk remains a challenge.

Jasvir Grewal, Head of Data and Analytics in the Global Facultative team discusses the impact risks of wildfires in this short video.

It has been four years since the Camp Fire's unprecedented deadly and destructive nature was witnessed across California, leading to the single biggest insurance loss event of 2018, according to Swiss Re.1

$12 bn insured losses as a result of Calfornia Camp Fire, with 85 people killed and 19,000 structures burned

As discussed by a report in The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and WTW, the destructive nature of the wildfire was immense: “the Camp Fire burned nearly 19,000 structures, killed at least 85 people, and resulted in insured losses of $12 billion”.2

Since then, the severity of the fires has increased, especially across California.

As shown in in the graph below from Munich Re, a large number of the wildfires that have occurred since 2001 had high maximum temperatures particularly when warm and dry conditions were prevalent.3

Weather and Wildfires in California

The chart shows weather and wildfires in California, showing that the bulk of the largest fires have occurred in 2001.
May-Oct anonomalies relative to 1981 – 2010

Data source: NCEI/NOAA, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

With the ever-increasing implications of climate change and urban development in fire prone areas, firms must ensure that techniques are developed to handle this increasing risk.

This has led to conversations relating to the development of more sophisticated ways to model and quantify climate change risk, including for wildfire.

The PG&E landmark ruling where the Dixie Fire was deemed to be sparked “by a tree that fell on electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E”4 illustrates the extent of liability exposure that wildfire risk could include.

Indeed, many contractors and utilities subsequently found themselves faced with extremely limited avenues for any degree of balance sheet protection.

Please complete the short form at the top of the page, to access the full report.

Footnotes

1 https://www.swissre.com/risk-knowledge/mitigating-climate-risk/natural-catastrophes-affecting-more-people-what-can-do-to-help.html

2 www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/FINALwildfire
resilienceinsurancesummaryofinsights6.27.21PAGES.pdf


3 www.munichre.com/topics-online/en/climate-change-and-natural-disasters/climate-change/climate-change-has-increased-wildfire-risk.html

4 www.cnbc.com/2022/01/05/california-finds-pge-equipment-responsible-for-massive-dixie-fire-.html

Disclosure

WTW offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed and authorised companies in each country in WTW operates. For further authorisation and regulatory details about our WTW legal entities, operating in your country, please refer to our WTW website. It is a regulatory requirement for us to consider our local licensing requirements.

For more information, please contact

Head of Casualty Broking, North America

Director - Data Analytics
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