More than 2 million homes in California face “extreme wildfire hazards,” over 400,000 of which are in Los Angeles County, according to a study issued Wednesday by an insurance industry group.
A study by the Insurance Information Network of California and Verisk Insurance Solutions – Underwriting shows a majority of high-risk homes are located in Southern California. However, rural Northern California regions have the highest percentage of homes exposed to extreme fire dangers.
“Nearly 15 percent of the 13.5 million homes in California face severe wildfire risk. That’s nearly as many homes as are in the entire state of Colorado,” Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California, said in a statement. “Wildfire risk is not exclusive to mountain or rural communities. Many of these homes are in densely-populated suburban neighborhoods.”
More than 417,000 of these high-risk homes are located in Los Angeles County. Southern California counties represent 53 percent of the high-risk homes statewide.
Northern California has a higher percentage of high-risk homes. The counties of Alpine, Mariposa, Tuolumne and Nevada account for more than 95,000 homes. More than 77 percent of these, or nearly 74,000, are considered high-risk.
The study uses three primary factors that contribute to wildfire risk: Fuels – threes trees, grasses and brush that feed wildfires were analyzed; slope – the grade of the surrounding land was measured as terrain can influence the speed and intensity of a wildfire; access – a determination was made on the condition and network of roads leading to each individual property.
All properties in California were classified as “low,” “moderate” or “high-risk” for wildfire loss potential.
Statewide, insurers protected more than $3 trillion worth of residential property in 2011, according to the California Department of Insurance. The California FAIR Plan, the insurer of last resort insuring high-risk properties, insured less than 1.25 percent of it. As a result, private insurers cover nearly 99 percent of the insured residential properties in the state, the study shows.
IINC has available an interactive map on its web site, www.iinc.org, that provides a county-by-county breakdown of the number and percentage of homes at risk.