For immediate release
California Press Office, Janet Ruiz, 707-490-9365 firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK, June 28, 2021—Technological advances and greater awareness about how wildfires spread are enabling Americans to build greater resilience to this natural disaster, six panelists convened by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and ResilientH20 Partners agreed.
In the latest installment of the Triple-I’s National Town Hall series, a risk modeler, an insurer’s founding partner, and an inventor were joined by subject matter experts from not-for-profit organizations and government to advance the latest developments in U.S. wildfire resilience.
“We can tell you the wildfire risk for every single property in the U.S.,” said Bob Frady, co-founder and CEO, HazardHub, which awards Wildfire Risk Grades ranging from A (the lowest risk) to F (the highest risk) and provides data to the Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator. “Eighty-nine (89) percent of wildfire-destroyed properties are in F zones,” he stated, referring to California and citing historical data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). “Wildfire is a highly localized problem. They happen exactly where we think they’re going to happen.”
“Embers are one of the main ignition sources,” said Kevin Stein, CEO, Delos Insurance, adding, “Our modeling has shown that what makes the biggest difference—the biggest indicator for loss for a home—is whether or not a fire can even be at that home in the first place.” Beyond a community’s vegetation levels, its wind patterns and moisture content are other factors insurers need to consider, Stein said.
“We want to fireproof the world and we really want to focus on areas that are fire-prone,” said Mike Francis, founder and CEO, Nanotech. His company’s Nano Shield product can be sprayed onto surfaces and provide protection for blazes reaching up to 1,800 degrees Celsius, Francis added. The technology has drawn interest from public utilities and will be installed across a working ranch and then a major winery next month in Big Sur, Calif., he said.
“Outthink Wildfire is the new initiative that we launched earlier this year,” said Michele Steinberg, Wildfire Division Director, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “It is a call to action to end the destruction of communities by wildfire in 30 years.” The NFPA’s campaign is aimed at educating the public on what they and their neighbors can do to reduce greatly the risk of a home’s ignition during a wildfire.
“Another recent product that we have is an app that we developed to visualize the risk,” stated Dr. Faraz Hedayati, Research Engineer, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), referring to Wildfire Ready Virtual. Released in May 2021, the IBHS app outlines the actions an individual homeowner can take to create a wildfire-resistant home.
“You can’t get to mitigation if you’re underfunded,” said Michael Morter, Wildfire Recovery Ombudsman, Oregon Office of Emergency Management. Oregon lawmakers, he continued, agreed this year to increase dramatically its financial commitment to mitigation after 2020’s deadly wildfires in Oregon destroyed more than 3,000 homes, burned one million-plus acres, and caused upwards of $2 billion in insured losses. Oregon is implementing a statewide and regional strategy to leverage new technologies and best practices across residential and commercial properties, seeking to protect citizens and companies from persistent wildfire threats.
“In collaboration with the Resilience Accelerator, the Resilience Innovation Hub and its national network of leading regional partners continues to engage insurance and reinsurance leaders as “co-investors” in pre-disaster risk mitigation – especially in drought-prone areas of the country where communities are most vulnerable,” noted Richard Seline, co-founder of the Hub and a Non-Resident Fellow of the Triple I’s Resilience Accelerator initiative.
The six panelists presented current data and updated practices in an interactive setting late last week on Changing the Course of Wildfire Resilience. Janet Ruiz, the Triple-I’s California-based Director, Strategic Communication, served as the session’s moderator.