Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


11:42 AM
Connect Directly

Colorado Wildfires and Mid-Atlantic Storms Turn Up The Heat on Insurers

A weekend of devastation in two different areas of the U.S. has shifted insurers into claims management mode.

Though the first half of 2012 lacked the signature major catastrophe events of the previous year, the second half of the year has led off with a bang.

Several wildfires began across Colorado in June, but the one consuming an area near Colorado Springs, Colo. since June 23 poses the most immediate danger. The Denver Post reports that the dry conditions feeding the Waldo Canyon fire are "historic" and that "Moisture content in the trees and vegetation across the state are at a record low."

State Farm and Farmers have been identified as insurers with high exposure to potential claims in the fire-ravaged area. But it will be a while before insured losses are fully known. Carole Walker, executive director at the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, told Bloomberg Businessweek that she and other insurance company representatives haven't yet been allowed access to the area.

[Read why risk modelers expect insurers' wildfire risk to grow.]

Meanwhile, residents of the East Coast were suffering through a massive heat wave when strong storms struck several states. Most notably, the mid-Atlantic states and the upper South were impacted with debris from the storm causing injuries and deaths.

In addition, air conditioners providing relief from the near-triple-digit heat were silenced by power outages, some caused by a possible tornado south of Richmond, Va. Amazon data centers powering popular sites Netflix and Instagram also were temporarily incapacitated.

The Charleston, W. Va. Daily Mail reports that a similar storm in 1991 led to 8,000 insurance claims. West Virginia Insurance Federation President Jill Bentz also told the newspaper that this time around, the state's insurance commissioner:

was expected to issue an emergency order allowing companies to relax deadlines they usually must meet to handle claims. The order also would allow companies to quickly hire additional claims adjusters.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters