Nearly 2 Million Homes at Wildfire Risk in Western U.S.

Nearly 2 Million Homes at Wildfire Risk in Western U.S.

Residential News » Los Angeles Edition | By Michael Gerrity | October 1, 2020 9:13 AM ET

According to CoreLogic's 2020 Wildfire Risk Report -- as smoky skies and poor air quality continue to burden cities up and down the U.S. West Coast -- 1,975,116 homes in the United States with an associated reconstruction cost of more than $638 billion at elevated risk of wildfire damage. These homes comprise approximately 6.5% of the total number of single-family residences in these states.

The Los Angeles metro area tops the list of metropolitan areas with the greatest single-family residences at wildfire risk, followed shortly thereafter by the Riverside and San Diego metro areas. California is home to 76% of these residences on the top 10 list--but the reconstruction cost value of these homes comprise nearly 84% of the list.

"2017 and 2018 were incredibly destructive, record setting years for wildfire, followed by a comparatively quieter 2019. When we talk about wildfire trends, it's important to treat any decrease in fire activity as only temporary," says Dr. Tom Jeffery, principal hazard scientist at CoreLogic. "Like most natural hazards, there is no reason to believe that the amount of wildfire acreage, or the number of homes in the path of future wildfires will be any less - and certainly the ongoing 2020 season is proof of that, well on its way to being among the most devastating in recent memory."

The devastation in Oregon, Washington and California has caused the loss of both dozens of lives and thousands of structures, and recovery from these wildfires is a process that can take years. Both Santa Rosa, home to the Tubbs Fire in 2017, and Paradise, where the Camp Fire took place in 2018, are still in the process of rebuilding. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional complications to an already deadly peril, and with the potential for disruptions to the supply chain for raw materials, manufacturing and transportation, this effort could be further challenged.

Insurance activities may also be challenged with an influx of claims and fewer adjusters to review damages, making automation and virtualization more critical than ever to supporting policyholders. CoreLogic helps carriers pinpoint fire hazard risk to establish better policy premiums without extensive on-site visits. Virtual surveys and DIY surveys are also less expensive than in-person solutions, providing a cost effective and efficient solution for underwriters and claims adjusters.

"The business landscape is changing to right-size today's challenges. Wildfire risk presents a case study for this," says Mick Noland, Executive, General Manager, Insurance Solutions at CoreLogic. "A single event can completely destroy a home. It is critical for insurers to have a complete view of each unique property to ensure adequate coverage and support in the wake of a catastrophe. Next-generation integrated insurance solutions, based on a foundation of granular data and insights, are the key to protecting families and businesses - and ultimately, the health of the housing ecosystem - from the threat of financial catastrophe."

The CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Report analyzes both single-family and multifamily homes currently at risk of wildfire damage in the most wildfire-prone states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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