Latest on California wildfires & resources for P&C insurers

by Jen Smoldt on October 30, 2019


California is once again in crisis mode. The Kincade, Saddle Ridge, Tick, and Getty fires were spurred by high winds—some reportedly in excess of 100 mph (the equivalent of a Cat 2 hurricane)—causing California’s governor to declare a state of emergency. While the Getty Fire threatened high-value homes in Los Angeles, the Kincade Fire, in northern California, grew rapidly—burning 77,000 acres and forcing 200,000 people to evacuate. Likewise, proactive power outages have exacerbated fear and frustration and left millions of people in the dark across California, including some of our own here at SpatialKey.

Kincade fire floating embers

With high winds come floating embers and the risk of igniting even more fires. As CAL FIRE  spokesman Rhett Pratt explained, “The wind will carry burning material sometimes miles ahead of the fire…so we're having to go around and one by one deal with those and mitigate those dangers as they pop up.” Having up-to-date wildfire perimeter data that can keep pace with these fires is absolutely crucial for P&C insurers who are trying to respond to this risk and safeguard insureds.

Data & analytics that can keep pace with wildfires

The northern California fires in 2017 advanced at a rate of more than a football field every three seconds. And, the still-active Kincade fire grew more than 300 percent over a single weekend. As many insurers can attest, accurate and up-to-date wildfire perimeter data has historically been a challenge. But advancements such as NASA’s satellite imagery coupled with geospatial technology are now providing insurers with timely event perimeter data. By integrating with NASA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), SpatialKey is able to provide detailed updates multiple times a day to our insurance clients, allowing for faster and more accurate wildfire perimeters.

Wildfire perimeter data available within SpatialKey

Instead of guessing about how these fires have grown and which insureds are impacted, you can access regular fire boundary updates within SpatialKey for a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of exposure. By overlaying the latest fire perimeter data from providers like NASA, RedZone, and GeoMac with your portfolio data, you can visualize exposure, apply buffers and filters, and understand TIV and/or policy exposed limits.

Kincade fire perimeter

For NASA data, SpatialKey provides buffers at one, two, and three miles from the perimeter. This enables the data to be ready for use in your exposure analysis. Overlay your portfolio to understand which insureds are inside the perimeter and apply buffers to understand the impact. Perimeters are updated daily and available on our licensed wildfire event portal.

Additionally, SpatialKey’s licensed wildfire event portal provides around-the-clock updates that show how wildfires have progressed with multiple data providers available in one place. 

Learn more about our wildfire event portal

Kincade fire

SpatialKey’s licensed wildfire portal provides regular fire perimeter updates from multiple providers, helping insurers understand how fires have progressed, portfolio impact, and insureds at risk.

Here are a few other resources to help you stay up-to-date with the California wildfires and stay in front of wildfire risk:

SpatialKey blog & industry articles:

For more information about available wildfire data and solutions, reach out to us. And, be sure to subscribe to our blog for more valuable updates and information like this: 


Topics: wildfire risk, California Wildfires, Wildfire exposure

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