The Hawaii wildfires have killed at least 111 people with many still unaccounted for, and they have burned more than 2,000 burned homes and businesses.
CNN reported that Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said it’s likely that more than 1,000 residents remain unaccounted for following the fires, which started Aug. 8.
The news service also reported the head of Maui’s emergency management agency has resigned, citing health reasons, a day after he defended the silence of the island’s siren system. No one tried to activate Maui’s all-hazard outdoor siren system, a spokesperson for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency told CNN last week.
The scale of property loss continues to grow.
Catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Company on Tuesday issued new estimates showing the insured property losses from the Lahaina Fire in Hawaii to be around $3.2 billion. AccuWeather on Monday increased its estimate of the total damage and economic loss from the devastating wildfires burning in Hawaii to $14 to $16 billion. That update followed AccuWeather’s preliminary estimate last week of total damage and economic loss of $8 to $10 billion.
Raymond Thomson, associate director at AM Best, said a major wildfire loss on an island in the middle of the ocean differs from a major wildfire loss on a continent in terms of its impact on insurers.
“The fires in Hawaii occurred in more concentrated areas, with much less room to travel than would be available on the mainland, so from one aspect, as devastating as the damages are, they are more contained,” Thompson said. “From an insurer and a rating perspective, the large carriers with geographic spread across the continental United States will likely have the capital and reinsurance coverage to absorb these losses.”
He expressed more concern for smaller, more concentrated carriers with more of their writings in Hawaii.
“The capital plans, reinsurance, and enterprise risk management programs of these carriers will be challenged to respond,” he said. “AM Best analysts are monitoring events in Hawaii closely.”
AM Best lists the top homeowners multi-peril insurers in Hawaii as of 2022 as State Farm with 35% of market share and $162 million in direct premiums written. Other top writers are Tokio Marine U.S. PC Group (12% market share), Allstate Insurance Group (8%), USAA Group (7%) and Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies (6%).
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