Wildfires are a regular problem within the United States, and California is the number one state at risk of having the most claims and calls for emergency regarding an unconstrained wildfire. 2017 was the worst year ever for California in terms of insured wildfire losses, which were estimated to be nearly 14 billion dollars. It is important to remember that this is only the insured loss number, with much more spending from both the public and private parties that did not have insurance or had damages that were not covered under any insurance plan.
Premiums are not favorable, as a whopping 15% of housing units are at risk of complete or partial burning from wildfires. This means that insurance companies are more likely to need to pay out for damages, which results in higher home insurance premiums, especially for houses that do not have effective access to stopping a conflagration, or if they are close to known sources that could be flammable. On top of its large population, California is prone to issues. The drought affecting the south, and the floods affecting the north have always presented a difficult, albeit ironic, issue.
Although not even half at risk when compared to California, Texas is number two on the list for the amount and danger of wildfires. This is an interesting placement on the list, as Texas has vast areas of wide-open land that can be purchased for cheap to turn into a residential, commercial, or even agricultural area. Even still, 7% of housing units are at risk in Texas of being damaged by a wildfire, with nearly 10 million total housing units.
The worst year for insured wildfire losses for the state of Texas was 2011 when it suffered the worst outbreak of conflagration to date. The state itself has restrictive fire-starting laws, especially for those within the agricultural industry that need to set fire to certain crops or crop remnants, especially after the harvest season has concluded. Large metro areas, such as Dallas and Austin, also have more stringent fire restrictions in place due to the density of the population.
Colorado sits 3rd on the list for the most dangerous state when it comes to wildfire damage, even though it has a relatively low amount of acreage that has been burned throughout the years. For example, Colorado had just over 48,000 acres lost due to a wildfire, which only came to the 18th most damaged state in 2021. However, the risk of wildfire to housing units is relatively high, coming in at 17%. This number is much higher than California but is placed lower on the list as the actual damage within the state of California far exceeds that of Colorado.
The worst year for Colorado in terms of insured wildfire losses was 2012 when 450 million dollars worth of damage was done to the acreage. Colorado homeowners are largely prepared in the event of a conflagration, and the wide open spaces make it difficult for wildfires to rage within populated areas.
# of Fires
Area Burned (acres)