This post is part of a series sponsored by CoreLogic.
Wildfires continue to be a massive threat to millions of properties across the United States. With the population growing and major metro areas continuing to develop housing along the edges of wildland-urban interfaces (WUI), homes and businesses are increasingly exposed to fire risk. This is particularly true for metro areas in California, Florida and Texas, which are the three states with the most properties at risk of wildfire.
Shortages in firefighting capacity as well as worsening drought conditions related to climate change are exacerbating wildfire risk. Since the early 20th century, temperatures in the West have increased by 2 degrees Celsius, and there has been a significant decline in the average spring snowpack. This has contributed to record-low water levels in major U.S. reservoirs and a three-month increase in the average duration of the fire season.
With the capacity to fight fires diminished and no end in sight for escalating drought conditions, it is critical for insurers to understand which areas of the country are most prone to these risks, how the regulatory framework is evolving to address these challenges and what communities can do to be as resilient as possible.
While California, Florida and Texas have the highest number of homes at risk of wildfire, other states also carry a substantial burden. States like Colorado and New Mexico have fewer homes overall, but significant wildfire events can impact a much larger proportion of their populations. New Mexico’s Santa Fe County has nearly 34,000 properties at risk of wildfire, but the county only housed a population of around 155,000 in 2020. This ratio of vulnerable homes to the overall population underscores the magnitude of population displacement assistance, reconstruction resources and economic recovery activities that may be required in the event of a significant wildfire event.
With wildfire danger threatening the liquidity and solvency of insurers, the California Department of Insurance is proposing new regulations to incentivize risk mitigation actions on covered properties and the surrounding areas. These changes mean that many insurers will need to expand their role to better help policyholders manage their risk.
The 2022 CoreLogic Wildfire Report identifies the top 16 states with the greatest number of properties at risk of wildfire while also examining the impact of drought conditions on this phenomenon and discussing upcoming changes to wildfire insurance regulation.
CoreLogic wildfire experts will be discussing new California wildfire regulations and introduce how we are leveraging innovations in science and data analytics to enable better risk differentiation for insurers in January at INTRCONNECT in Los Angeles. To learn more, visit corelogic.com/intrconnect
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