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Insured loss from Lahaina wildfire expected to be second largest ever in Hawaii: KCC

14th August 2023 - Author: Saumya Jain

A Maui County update reveals that 2,207 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fires, with an estimated reconstruction cost of $5.52 billion, while catastrophe risk modeller Karen Clark & Company (KCC) has said that the total insured loss will be “second only to Hurricane Iniki based on today’s property value.”

wildfireData released over the weekend from the Pacific Disaster Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, shows that as of August 11th, 2,719 structures were exposed to the Lahaina fire, with 2,207 of these either damaged or destroyed, with 2,170 acres burned.

Of the exposed buildings, the data finds that 86% are classified as residential and 9% commercial, with $5.52 billion of capital exposed.

Analysis from KCC notes that a total of 3,500 buildings are within the fire perimeter. The cat risk modeller states that it will continue to monitor the fire and provide further updates, but at this stage, expects the total insured loss to be the second largest in Hawaii history after Hurricane Iniki.

Hurricane Iniki, which devastated Hawaii in September 1992, was the most powerful storm to hit the region in recorded history. The storm caused $3.1 billion in economic damage when it occurred, but at today’s dollars is estimated at closer $6 billion.

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While it’s hard to say how much of the damage caused by the fire will be covered by insurance, it’s likely a significant percentage of the wildfire damage. Alongside the costs of reconstruction, there will also be insurance claims for the expenses people face while homes are being rebuilt.

The Lahaina fire began on Tuesday night and accelerated quickly due to dry conditions, low humidity, and wind speeds of up to 60mph.

KCC notes that Maui has had below-average precipitation through the spring and summer, contributing to the dry conditions.

“Hurricane Dora passing far to the south and a high pressure system to the north created a strong pressure gradient which contributed to the high winds that helped to quickly spread the fire,” says KCC.

So far, it’s been reported that 96 people have died from the fire, with at least 100 people missing, and at least 11,000 people have been displaced.

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