Protecting Our Customers from Increased Wildfire Risk
For the fifth year in a row, the 2021 wildfire season in California was very destructive. There were more than 8,800 fires that burned approximately 2.5 million acres and damaged or destroyed more than 3,600 buildings. Four of the 20 largest fires in California history occurred during 2021, including the second largest fire in state history, the Dixie Fire, which burned nearly 1 million acres across five California counties. In Colorado, a relatively quiet 2021 wildfire season came to a tragic end when 110 mph winds pushed the Marshall Fire through the towns of Louisville and Superior on December 30 and 31, damaging or destroying more than 1,000 buildings. The fire was the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, measured in terms of the number of homes destroyed.
While our commitment to our customers is to make them whole after a covered loss such as a wildfire, we also help our customers avoid or mitigate the loss. In 2019, Travelers introduced a Wildfire Defense Services Endorsement for California home and landlord policies. In 2020, we expanded this offering to Small Commercial policyholders with building coverage in California and then expanded it again in 2021, this time to home, landlord, farm and ranch customers in Colorado. This endorsement provides an added layer of wildfire protection for our customers at no additional cost. We work with Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) to provide response services that supplement the efforts of local firefighters and other first responders who are deployed before, during and after active wildfires.
WDS is a private firm that specializes in wildfire education, loss prevention and response services. In the event of a wildfire, the firm uses proprietary technology to generate wildfire threat prediction maps that help identify the imminent threat zone and the Travelers customers within that area. WDS then services as many homes as possible based on a variety of factors, including resources, weather conditions, the fire’s proximity and the firm’s own safety guidelines. The service works to protect our customers’ homes and businesses from wildfires with services beyond what local fire departments may be able to provide – such as reducing potential fuel sources, taping vents, applying fire retardants and setting up sprinklers.
In addition to protecting our customers’ businesses and properties, this loss prevention service has saved us millions of dollars in potential losses. This is just one example of the shared value we create – in other words, how delivering on our promise to our customers also generates shareholder value.