Texas Wildfire Losses Could Surpass $100M

Texas Wildfire Losses Could Surpass $100M

07 September 2011

published by www.propertycasualty360.com

USA — Early estimates are putting insured homeowner losses from the Texas wildfires at more than $100 million, setting records for the state, says a state association official.

Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, says in a statement, “The fire losses for 2011 are already the worst on record in Texas. These wildfires over the Labor Day weekend will only add to what has become a catastrophic year for Texas.”

The Insurance Council of Texas says the losses will “easily top the $100 million mark” as residents return to their homes and begin filing claims.

The most damaging fire, the association says, is in Bastrop County, claiming nearly 500 homes and 25,000 acres.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated and remain out of their homes as firefighters continue to fight the blazes.

Catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide did not issue an estimate on loss but says the average replacement value of a single-family home in Texas statewide is roughly $187,000.

Tomas Girnius, senior research scientist for AIR, notes that drought conditions throughout the state have been at their worst in years, and the “unusual convergence of strong winds, unseasonably warm temperatures and low humidity” has exacerbated the situation.

Firefighters got a reprieve of sorts as winds from Tropical Storm Lee died down and temperatures dipped to 90 degrees.

Yesterday, Texas officials said fires claimed at least two people—a mother and her child trapped in a mobile home when flames overtook them.

State officials say that since the start of wildfire season, fires have claimed 1,000 homes and 3.6 million acres.

According to Highline Data, a member of Summit Business Media, which also owns National Underwriter, the top four insurers of multi-peril homeowners insurance in Texas are State Farm, with close to 29 percent of the market; Allstate and Zurich (Farmers Insurance), both with more than 12 percent of the market; and USAA Group, with close to 8 percent of the market.

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