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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.
Insurers have always been a step behind with their wildfire event response efforts. Namely because of how quickly a wildfire moves and how slowly perimeter data has historically been generated. This means carriers are often left in the dark during an event, not knowing which insureds have been or could be impacted. With the past several years seeing steep increases in the severity of wildfire events—$12 billion in insured losses in California alone in 2018, and nearly that same amount in 2017—now is the time for carriers to ensure every measure is being taken to get in front of this year’s wildfires.
Willis Re, the reinsurance division of Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, has deployed a wildfire risk solution that can be used throughout the U.S. to assess location level wildfire risk, and how the risk correlates to the company’s portfolio level wildfire exposure. The new solution supports Willis Re clients to write and price wildfire risk with increased confidence and efficiency for the peril of wildfire.
Technology is shaping better data and analytics for improved wildfire response. Instead of guessing about how a fire has grown and which insureds are impacted, insurers can access regular fire boundary updates within SpatialKey. Up-to-date wildfire perimeter data has historically been a challenge, with insurance professionals resorting to hand-drawn boundaries or custom shapefile creation. Now, insurers can gain a much more accurate and comprehensive understanding of exposure by overlaying the latest fire perimeter data, including multiple models such as RedZone, GeoMac, and NASA data (all available during the latest California fires), with their portfolio data to visualize exposure, apply buffers and filters, and understand TIV and/or policy exposed limits.