Camp Fire losses jump to $8.4 billion, California insurance commissioner says

Insurance claims from the Camp Fire have risen to $8.4 billion, underscoring the devastation from the deadliest wildfire in California history, the Department of Insurance said Monday.

The latest figures represent an increase of $1.4 billion from December, according to Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, adding: “I have a hunch it’s going to continue to rise steadily.”

Lara’s figures come a day before PG&E is expected to file for bankruptcy because of its potential liabilities from the Camp Fire and the 2017 fires. Although Cal Fire is still investigating the wildfire’s cause, PG&E has been sued by thousands of Camp Fire survivors. The utility has acknowledged problems on a transmission tower near the spot where the fire started Nov. 8. The fire killed 86 people, more than any other in California history, and destroyed more than 13,000 homes in Paradise.

Several major insurers have sued Pacific Gas and Electric Co., demanding reimbursement for the claims they expect to pay out.

Although a small insurer based in Merced County has gone insolvent because of anticipated Camp Fire claims, Lara said the industry has the capacity to absorb the losses even if PG&E goes bankrupt.

“We know that the insurers have the money they need to make things whole,” he said at a press conference. “Regardless of who’s at fault, we’re confident insurers have the money.”

Lara said insurance claims from last summer’s Carr Fire and Mendocino Complex Fire totaled $934 million. Total wildfire claims from 2018 have reached $12.4 billion, including losses from the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California.

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