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Northern California wildfires break $9 billion in insurance claims



The fires that torched their way through the state’s wine country in October have broken fire records.

The Northern California wildfires from October have already generated an incredible $9 billion in insurance claims. This has easily left the previous wildfire insurance claim records well behind.

The October blaze is now the most expensive single fire in the history of the United States.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones does not think that total will rise much further for those Northern California wildfires. The $9 billion figure represents the total insurance claims made with 260 insurers by December 1. It includes claims filed on residential, automobile, commercial and other forms of property insurance policies.

“And behind those staggering numbers are personal stories of tragedy and loss, and 44 individuals whose lives were lost,” added Jones in a recent report by The Associated Press.

Prior to the Northern California wildfires in October, the next most costly blazes in U.S. history were in 1991.

fire fighter northern california wildfiresIn that year, the previous most costly wildfire in American history occurred in Oakland Hills. It came with $2.7 billion in insurance claims (converted to today’s dollars), according to Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) figures. The fires from October have accumulated over three times that amount in insurance claims.

A couple of months ago, almost two dozen fires started in the northern part of the state. While, California hasn’t released an individual breakdown of the costs associated with each fire, state officials have said that one of the largest among the blazes caused more damage to buildings than the entire disaster in 1991.

So far, there have been about 18,000 homeowners insurance claims from damaged or destroyed houses. The majority of those homes were in Sonoma County, where one of the fires made its way through a number of communities, said Jones. Furthermore, there were almost 5,000 auto insurance claims, 2,300 commercial property claims, and an additional 650 claims for other forms of property, such as boats.

Although the Northern California wildfires did generate outstanding losses in October, the insurance commissioner stated that there is “no question” that insurance companies will indeed have the necessary funds for claims payments.

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