Acres burned by wildfire in the US have climbed year after year since the early 1980s, increasing in both frequency and intensity. In California, the Butte County Camp Fire in 2018 was the costliest wildfire in modern history, burning 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 buildings and claiming 85 lives, stoking heightened interest amongst insurers and reinsurers to manage this risk effectively.
For insurers and reinsurers, one of the best methods to manage wildfire risk is to proactively account for it during the pricing and underwriting process. The necessary prerequisite is to ensure that all relevant risk factors are considered at the property level. This includes nearby fuel sources and the structure’s distance to those sources, defensible space, wildfire history, types of vegetation, slope, aspect, average rainfall, katabatic wind areas, the time required for first responders to arrive on scene, and many other variables. However, without first knowing the insured building’s actual geolocation, how can all these wildfire risk factors be accurately determined at the property level?