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Wildfire Trends: Prepare Your Disaster Response

process wildfire claims

Wildfires are on the rise in many states and that means property owners and insurance professionals should prepare for coming disasters. Everything from mitigation to response will influence safety during events and response post-event. Process wildfire claims quickly by understanding the shifting wildfire season trends.

Wildfires by the Numbers

Climate conditions are a major factor in wildfire frequency but it’s the human element making things unpredictable. According to the
Western Fire Chiefs Association, 90% of wildfires are associated with accidental human causes. 

Burn piles, unattended campfires and things like sparks caused by dragging trailer chains and equipment can spark a fire. Tossing cigarette butts without fully extinguishing them is another cause. Predicting when and where fires will occur is difficult because of the human element.

The one thing we know for sure however, is the conditions that elevate wildfire risk. Excess fuel, hot temperature and generally dry conditions create the perfect conditions for large fires. Wind and weather can also help those fires spread rapidly. 

According to the EPA, fire seasons are changing in notable ways. For context:

  • There have been an average of 73,000 wildfires annually since 1983.
  • We are seeing an increase in size of wildfires (acreage burned) with the 10 largest on record occurring after 2004.
  • The largest acreage burns are occurring in the western and southwestern regions. The west is seeing increases across every month in a given year.
  • Wildfire seasons are longer and begin earlier. Until 2001, the peak fire season was August. In recent decades it has shifted to July. 

State Farm also reports an average 8% increase in wildfire claims with an average payout of $224,000 as of March 2022. This National Wildland Fire Outlook is a useful resource for both policyholders and insurance companies. It provides information about regionality. Hancock Claims has nationwide professionals ready to help.

Homeowners and insureds can prepare and respond better by acknowledging the new fire realities. Through mitigation and best practice responses, it is possible to minimize claims and restore insureds by applying efficient claims management resources.

Notable Post Wildfire Trends Impacting Insureds and Adjusters 

Wildfires aren’t the only thing on the rise. Repair costs are also increasing and this impacts homeowners, adjusters and the contractors or vendors servicing claims. 

  1. Claim Processing Delays – Claims surges are sudden and insurance companies often find themselves overwhelmed and under-resourced. Frustration has ensued due to delays, lack of communication, and financial strain on homeowners while their claim is being processed.
  2. Property Value Disputes – Determining values is not always easy and disputes do happen. This can cause longer claim processing times. It also increases the workload for adjusters, who must determine the correct value of the loss.
  3. Origin of Cause Conflicts – Investigations take time and causation is a critical factor in determining coverage. Wildfires begin in a number of ways, from lightning strikes to human causes. Difficulties pinpointing the cause can make coverage determinations difficult.
  4. Contractor and Vendor Shortages – After a catastrophic wildfire event, contractors serving the locales are booked and finding immediate resources is difficult.
  5. Inadequate Insurance Coverage – Homeowners without adequate wildfire coverage may require hefty out-of-pocket expenses, increasing their financial burden and ability to restore property after a loss.

The processing of wildfire claims can be complex and lengthy. It requires close collaboration between homeowners, adjusters, and vendors. This ensures that claims are processed quickly and fairly.

Helping Policyholders Manage Wildfire Claims

From the policyholder perspective,
managing claims after a wildfire can feel stressful and overwhelming. The process varies across insurance companies but knowing the general scope of how things work can help manage expectations. 

The process for policyholders after a wildfire loss typically involves:

  1. Notification – Policyholders should contact the insurer asap to report damage and initiate the claims process. After making contact, the claim can begin and the insurance company will determine next steps for policyholders. Make sure you educate policyholders on how to file a wildfire claim ahead of fire season.
  2. Record the Damage – Property owners must accurately record damage to the property and contents. They take photos, videos and work with contents specialists from the adjuster to assemble detailed lists for valuation.
  3. Prevent Additional Damage – Homeowners or insurance companies can tarp and board roofs, windows and exterior elements to prevent additional damage from the elements. They also must turn off utilities and make an assessment to ensure the damages don’t continue accumulating.
  4. Communicate with Insurance Adjuster – Adjusters are a critical point of contact in the claims process. They should have an open line of communication to help policyholders with contractor scheduling and general communications.
  5. Monitor Progress and Settle the Claim – While adjusters work hard in the claims process, homeowners should remain cognizant of everything happening on the ground. Adjusters can communicate to make sure contractors complete work and everything agreed upon is moving towards a successful resolution.

By understanding the claims process and staying in touch with policyholders, adjusters can better navigate the recovery steps after a loss.

How Hancock Claims Helps Adjusters and Policyholders in Times of Crisis

Claims surges place a burden of tasks on insurance companies and adjusters. Responding to the sudden demand is difficult when handling every aspect of claims management internally.

We created Hancock Claims based on the Under One Roof principles. These principles involve using efficient insurance technology and a nationwide network of on-call professionals. This enables us to service claims quickly. With our help, insurance adjusters can access:

  • A nationwide network of adjusters and contents specialists.
  • Tarping and boarding services immediately following an event.
  • Easy scheduling for inspections.
  • A Preferred Repair Network with vetted and compliant contractors.
  • The robust Expert Services Network with engineers and specialized professionals.

Managing claims is now simpler. We provide a single point of contact that moves the process along. We also deliver timely and accurate information directly to adjusters’ desks. Adjusters can focus on policyholder communications, delivering a better experience and shortening claims cycles.

Partner with HCC to help manage the high volume of wildfire claims and restore policyholders with compassion.

About Hancock Claims Consultants

With a 20-year history supporting property insurers, Hancock Claims Consultants now provides full claims lifecycle support under one roof.  Hancock’s nationwide network of inspectors, contractors, and engineers provides the scale and breadth of support services that adjusters need.  For property inspections and estimating, full contents services, engineering and expert services, and managed repair, we have your claims needs covered.  For more information, please visit

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