Florida and four Western US states at most risk for wildfire damage in 2022
Florida, Texas, Colorado, California and New Mexico are the top five US states at most risk of wildfire damages in 2022, according to a report by CoreLogic, a property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.
The Wildfire Report for 2022 tracks wildfire risks in 15 Western US states and Florida. It examines property-related wildfire risk alongside reconstruction resource availability, temporary housing capacity for displaced individuals, and community economic recovery potential among fire-prone regions.
Western states in the US are commonly affected by wildfires, but climate change and the region’s severe drought of recent years has only exacerbated the issue.
According to the report, decreasing water levels in the Colorado River and Lake Mead, along with declines in snowpacks, have contributed to a longer wildfire season by an average of three months, resulting in a 1500% increase in burn areas.
Analysts have seen some worrisome trends in wildfire-prone California, and concluded that as it is the most populous state in the US with the largest amount of properties, it is once again the state where owners run the greatest risk of wildfire damage.
The state not faces prolonged drought conditions, but also with firefighter shortages. CoreLogic found that in the summer of 2022 California employed 25% fewer fighters than initially projected, amounting to 1,300 unfilled jobs.
Climate change and the resulting uptick in wildfire activity is particularly relevant to home insurers in states like California, where new regulations will likely go into effect in the summer of 2023, CoreLogic highlighted.
These amended guidelines would require insurers to more accurately account for the mitigation of risks by factoring in a property’s surroundings, attic and subfloor ventilation vulnerabilities, and other circumstances that could affect its exposure to wildfire damage.
Two counties in Colorado and New Mexico have particularly concerning wildfire damage risks, given the number of homes that could be impacted. In Colorado’s El Paso County – the state’s most heavily populated and home to Colorado Springs – a wildfire could affect 39,000 homes. New Mexico’s Santa Fe County has an even greater percentage of risk, given it is much smaller.
Since the global climate is shifting too quickly to rely on past wildfire activity and property damage as an accurate future barometer, CoreLogic said it has developed highly accurate risk models with the latest data and analysis from its team of experts.
These models evaluate simulations of weather variations and help homeowners, communities, property businesses and insurers plan for risks and losses associated with climate change and the resulting wildfires.
“Consuming thousands of homes in the US every year, wildfires present a real and present threat to our families and communities. Mitigating this risk will require commitment from homeowners, first responders, insurers and regulators. A first step in achieving the resilient communities we seek is to quantify what is at risk,” said Tom Larsen, senior director of Insurance solutions at CoreLogic.
Source: Reinsurance News, https://www.reinsurancene.ws/florida-and-four-western-us-states-at-most-risk-for-wildfire-damage-in-2022/