Tag Archives: California wildfires

Understanding California’s wildfire risk score model

In California, the number of acres burned per wildfire and structures damaged per acre have increased since 2013. Relentless years of devastating wildfires are stretching the California homeowners insurance industry to its limits with losses of $37 billion outstripping premiums of $32 billion since 2016. 

Faced with the inability to recover all the costs of insuring California wildfires, the California admitted insurance market has been reducing its wildfire exposure. Stricter underwriting eligibility guidelines and higher rates for wildfire-exposed properties have pushed more policyholders into secondary markets, such as the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. The FAIR Plan is design to accept properties that are having difficulty in finding insurance in the market and does not decline risks due to wildfire exposure. 

To better understand its exposure to wildfire, the FAIR Plan asked Zesty.ai, Inc., a company that provides a wildfire risk score model, to score the FAIR Plan properties relative to wildfire risk. To read more about the FAIR Plan and Zesty.ai’s risk score model, read this paper by Milliman’s Annie ShenSheri Scott, and Katherine Dalis. It is the second in a series of articles examining California wildfire risk and tools that could be used to identify, quantify, and mitigate this risk. 

Record-setting wildfires put homeowners insurance in jeopardy

As the 2020 wildfire season again exceeds historical norms, insurers and policymakers must turn their attention from the literal fires to the figurative one: the threat—and increasing likelihood—that this escalating wildfire risk will result in a homeowners insurance crisis in the state of California.

For homeowners, insurance is often the last line of defense against losing everything to wildfire. However, for many, this crucial financial backstop is rapidly becoming harder to obtain as insurers reduce their portfolios due to billions in losses and regulatory restrictions on reflecting the true cost of risk in the premiums charged. This withdrawal is creating an untenable situation for many Californians and efforts to address it are becoming an urgent priority for policy makers.

In this article, Milliman professionals explain in more detail the state of home insurance in California and the regulatory efforts to address the issues thus far.