Insurance Claims Reach $9 Billion from Wildfires

Insurance claims from November’s California wildfires reached $9 billion and are expected to increase as the clean up process continues. Currently, there are more than 28,000 homeowners insurance claims filed, approximately 2,000  commercial property claims and 9,400 auto insurance claims among other miscellaneous claims the fires.

Camp Fire

Of the billions of dollars worth of insurance claims filed, about $7 billion in damages are from Camp Fire. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Camp Fire started on November 8th in Butte County in Northern California.

The origin of Camp Fire is still to be determined. There are many events that could have started the fire, including electrical failures and tossed cigarettes. Pacific Gas and Electric is being looked at closely since research by Cal Fire determined that at least 17 of the 21 major fires in Northern California were caused by power lines or equipment owned by the company.

Camp Fire burned for more than two weeks and destroyed 153,336 acres. The fire destroyed more structures than the previous seven worst wildfires combined. Cal Fire statistics estimates that Camp Fire burned 14,000 residences, 530 commercial structures and other minor buildings. The city of Paradise was the most affected by the wildfire. Camp Fire is also the deadliest wildfire in California history with 81 deaths.

Woolsey and Hill Fires

The remaining $2 billion in insurance claims damages are for the Woolsey and Hill fires that started in Southern California. Woolsey and Hill both started on November 8th. Woolsey burned 96,949 acres and killed three people. Hill burned for 4,500 acres and destroyed four buildings. The causes for the Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire are still under investigation. 

The three fires destroyed or heavily damaged 20,000 structures. Federal and state authorities estimate approximately $3 billion in clean up costs. The cleanup costs for the fires will surpass the record $1.3 billion the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent on clean up in Northern California for 2017. 

Clean up responsibilities will be shared between state, federal and local agencies. Cleanup is set to begin in January and may take at least a year to finish.