California Insurance Claims for Wildfires Soar to $11.7 Billion

Insurance Claims

Americans watched in horror as wildfires swept across Northern and Southern California only a few months ago. Thankfully, people are beginning to rebuild and put their lives back together. However, as the final blaze was being extinguished, a new type of blaze was just beginning. Do you know what it was? It was a financial blaze consisting of insurance claims ripping through insurance offices across California. In fact, it is estimated that California insurance companies have received over $11.7 billion in claims from wildfires.

The total value of insurance claims was reported by Dave Jones, the state Insurance Commissioner, on January 31. He said, "If you treat these October and December fires as a combined incident, these insured losses represent one of the most damaging natural catastrophes in California history." That is a lot of money!

Of course, not all of the insurance claims are traced back to items everyday Americans insure all of the time. Yes, there are many claims being made all around California. However, the bulk of the insurance claims stem from Sonoma and Mendocino counties. These two counties are known as California's wine country. The dames to buildings and vineyards in those counties totaled nearly $10 billion in claims alone.

After destroying California's wine country in October, the wildfires spread across the desert to cause an additional $1.7 billion in insurance claims. Unfortunately, these insurance numbers should not be viewed as an oddity. Jones explained that a fire season simply no longer exists in California. Instead, fires are simply a reality throughout the entire year. This of course does not minimize the sufferings of people during the months of October and November. Speaking again of the recently extinguished wildfires, Jones continued, "The fires were unprecedented for their severity and disastrous consequences. Whole neighborhoods were wiped out." The fires on both ends of the states ended up spanning a total of 14 counties.

Jones is doing what he can to help people with their losses. For example, Jones issued a formal notice requesting insurance companies to waive requirements for policyholders that they provide a detailed inventory of their losses. Without this formal notice, many policy holders would be left with tedious and nearly impossible tasks in order for insurance companies to pay up to 100% of the claims. Thankfully, nearly all insurance providers agreed to follow this formal notice. Hopefully, all of these insurance claims will help California rebuild.