Wildfires in 2015 have already caused more damage and financial loss in the United States than in any other year since 2007.
Aon Benfield’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report reveals that California wildfires during September destroyed more than 2,000 homes and resulted in estimated insured losses of at least $1.1 billion—the costliest since 2007.
The Valley Fire, northwest of San Francisco, and the Butte Fire, southeast of Sacramento, were the most destructive of the fires.
In its report, Aon notes that the Valley Fire left four people dead, destroyed 1,958 residential and commercial structures and damaged 93 others. It is the third-most damaging wildfire in state history.
Total economic losses were estimated beyond $1.5 billion, while preliminary insured losses were put at in excess of $925 million, Aon reports.
The Butte Fire left two people dead and destroyed 475 homes, 343 outbuildings and damaged 45 other structures. It is the seventh most damaging wildfire in state history.
Total economic losses were estimated at $450 million while preliminary estimated insured losses are in excess of $225 million.
With the peak of California wildfire season just beginning, the severity of the September events serves as a reminder of how costly the peril can be for the insurance industry, Aon Benfield said.
Elsewhere around the world, wildfires continued to pose problems in parts of Indonesia as officials declared 2015 the worst year for wildfires since 1997.
One study reported that Indonesia would endure $4 billion in direct and secondary economic losses from the fires in the regions of Sumatra and Kalimantan, Aon said.
The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) provides some useful facts and statistics on wildfires here.
A recent I.I.I. media advisory notes that seven of the 10 costliest wildfires in U.S. history in terms of insured losses have occurred in California. The costliest of these was the 1991 Oakland fire which produced $2.7 billion in claims (in 2014 dollars).
For more on the California wildfires, Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s Northern California-based representative can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 490-9375.