Crawford responding to US wildfire claims
UPDATE — 27 August 2020
California is experiencing some of its largest-ever wildfires - the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in the northern Bay Area and Central Valley is the second-largest recorded inferno in the state’s history and the SCU Lightning Complex Fire, mainly east of San Jose, is the third.
The most devastating - the Camp Fire in Butte County - occurred in 2018 and caused insured losses of $12bn, according to an Aon estimate.
At the same time, wildfires are wreaking destruction across 14 other U.S. states, with Alaska, Arizona, Oregon and Washington worst affected. With conditions still hot and dry, experts say it will be some time before there is a reprieve.
Crawford is already handling claims for clients with policies affected by the fires, but it is too early to put an estimated cost on this year’s events, according to Ken Tolson, Crawford’s president of Claims Solutions in the U.S.
“We’re now starting to report claim volumes and are seeing demand for dedicated cat teams because of the widespread damage and high number of homes affected,” he says, stressing: “Wildfires cause devastation and great distress for the victims. Crawford’s role is to help get restore their lives and livelihoods as quickly as possible.”
Access to affected areas is virtually impossible until the fires are extinguished. However, Crawford can deploy drones from its 2,200-strong fleet to conduct aerial damage assessments and its adjusting teams are on standby for deployment in affected regions.
The age of remote adjusting
As much adjusting of wildfire damage as possible will be conducted remotely. Drones footage will provide quick assessments of the extent of total losses, while recently rolled-out exterior and 3D modelling apps now allow adjusters and policyholders to conduct inspections of smoke-damaged properties from their smartphones.
As wildfires usually destroy affected properties, these tools are arguably best applied pre-loss in wildfire-prone areas to ensure adjusters can apply accurate values to properties, Tolson says. Some carriers in high-risk zones now ask homeowners to conduct their own pre-loss inspections using apps such as Hover during the binding process.
“When wildfires run across a neighborhood houses usually burn to the ground, so it is very important to have a good pre-loss view of the properties,” Tolson explains. “Today’s self-service tools save the cost of conducting physical inspections and provide insurers with really valuable underwriting information on the properties, so uptake has been good.”
In California, where the risk of wildfires is high and well understood, progress has also been made in loss mitigation, from the development of fire-retardant sprays and coverings for houses to the improvement of water supplies and sprinkler systems in high-risk neighborhoods.
However, wildfires are notoriously hard to control, and insured losses from this season’s fires are likely to be significant. “Much still depends on which way the wind blows,” says Tolson.
August has seen a significant upturn in U.S. CAT claims with Hurricanes Isiais, Marco and Laura making landfall and a severe thunderstorm loss in the Chicago region. Crawford recruits and trains its people throughout the year in anticipation of heightened claims activity in August and September, and has the capacity and expertise to respond across the U.S.
ORIGINAL UPDATE — 25 August 2020
Several fires in northern California are burning out of control as over 14,000 firefighters, many brought in from nearby states, struggle to contain them. The LNU Lightning Complex Fire, in the northern Bay Area and Central Valley, is the second-largest inferno in California recorded history. The SCU Lightning Complex Fire, largely east of San Jose, is now the third-largest fire in the state's history. Media outlets are comparing the size of the destruction with five New York Cities. Experts do not anticipate a reprieve any time soon as the weather conditions are still dry and hot. Lightning strikes have caused several of the fires.
Crawford is currently handling claims for clients with policies in the areas affected by the fires. In addition, our highly specialized group of Global Technical Services adjusters are also prepared to respond to large and complex commercial losses. For assistance with claims or damage assessments associated with these wildfires, contact our 24-hour ClaimsAlert call center at 1-877-346-0300, email us at email@example.com or submit a claim online.