California’s Camp fire was the costliest global disaster last year, insurance report shows

Michael John Ramirez hugs his wife, Charlie, after they found her keepsake bracelet in the rubble of their Paradise, Calif., home that was consumed by the Camp fire.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The Camp fire in Northern California was the costliest single natural disaster in the world for insurers last year, resulting in $12.5 billion in covered losses, and was the most destructive wildfire ever, according to a new report by a German reinsurance firm.

The Camp fire resulted in a record $16.5 billion in total losses, according to the firm, Munich RE.

For the record:

8:10 p.m. Jan. 11, 2019A previous version of this article called the Woolsey fire the fifth-costliest natural disaster in North America last year. It was the fifth-costliest disaster in the world.

On a global level, 2018 was the fourth-costliest year for insurance companies since 1980, with $80 billion in covered losses. Massive California wildfires — specifically the Carr, Camp and Woolsey blazes — were major contributors to that total, according to Munich RE. Another $80 billion in losses weren’t insured, the company said.


Last year was still less costly than 2017, when hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria led to losses of $340 billion, including $138 billion in covered losses.

Together, 15 major wildfires last year in California, which took more than 100 lives, cost U.S. insurance companies $24 billion, of which $18 billion was insured, Munich RE said.

The Woolsey fire, at $4 billion in insured losses, was the second-costliest wildfire and the fifth-costliest natural disaster in the world, the report showed.

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