A wildfire blazes near a house in California. (Photographer: Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News)  

Three California Fires Expected to Cost Insurers $9.05 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Three of last month’s California wildfires will cost insurers about $9.05 billion, according to preliminary information from state regulators.

That figure is based on initial claims that insurers have received from the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said on a conference call Wednesday. The number is likely to rise over time as more people get access to their neighborhoods and additional claims are processed, he said.

Residents and their insurers have been coping with heightened risk of wildfires in recent years. The Camp and Woolsey fires killed 89 people and destroyed more than 20,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Last year’s blazes resulted in nearly $12 billion in statewide insurance claims, the commissioner said in January.

The causes of the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires remain under investigation.

State investigators are probing whether electrical equipment owned by PG&E Corp. sparked Northern California’s Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive in state history. Edison International’s Southern California Edison is evaluating whether a power failure near the start of the Woolsey Fire last month was related to contact between wires. Authorities haven’t said power lines are suspected as the cause of the Hill Fire in Ventura County.

Some insurers have disclosed expected losses tied to the fires, including Chubb Ltd. The company said it expects $225 million in fourth-quarter net losses before taxes related to the blazes.

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