NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With business owners facing the ‘new normal’ of a seven-month wildfire season, rising temperatures, public safety power shutoffs, COVID-19 - all compounded by riots and civil unrest - wildfire preparation will be more critical than ever this year. To meet the myriad of challenges taking place during these unprecedented times, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) has teamed up with the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) to provide businesses with some of the most stringent risk mitigation practices for safeguarding their establishments.
Further, as outlined in a new Allianz report “Future Fires: Weathering the Fire Storm" released today, 2019 was yet another catastrophic year for commerce with 46,786 wildfires burning more than 4.6 million acres, leading to the evacuation of over 200,000 people, sustained blackouts, and the declaration of a state of emergency. 2020 is shaping up to be yet another difficult year with wildfires already blazing across drought-ridden Western states coupled with the risk of coronavirus, which has already reduced the number of overall firefighters available in California and is likely to remain well into the fall.
While several factors can be attributed to the increasing proliferation of wildfires each year – humans (accidentally or purposefully), equipment failure (power lines), weather volatility and extreme conditions, including high temperatures, low humidity, strong winds and high fuel loads (vegetation and structures) – improved risk mitigation techniques can help reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires and their subsequent effect on businesses, large and small.
According to Allianz and the Triple-I, business owners should take the following steps to safeguard employees and property from wildfire:
- Create defensible space around your building or structures
- Create a Vegetation Maintenance Plan (VMP) to reduce sources of ignition
- Use noncombustible materials for building signage, avoiding wood, plastic, and vinyl
- Select exterior wall cladding made of noncombustible siding materials such as concrete and brick
- Select dual-paned windows with tempered glass, kept closed when wildfire threatens
- Use noncombustible material when replacing roofs. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire
- Inspect vents and clear debris from roofs. Roofs and gutters are particularly vulnerable surfaces, as embers can lodge here and start a fire. Regularly clearing your roof and gutters of debris, installing gutter guards or screens, and blocking off any points of entry on your roof will all help safeguard your home
Finally, don’t forget to update your inventory, business continuity, evacuation, and safety plans.
Despite the prevalence of wildfires and the prolonged duration of wildfire season, "Future Fires" highlights how a number of innovative technologies are stepping up to meet the challenge. One application of fire protection that is currently in use is an environmentally safe biodegradable fire-fighting foam used for pretreatment and suppression around property and building perimeters. When fire is imminent, foam is applied from private fire trucks appointed with state-of-the-art equipment.
One Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company has developed a system that analyzes satellite images every 10 minutes to identify where new wildfires may have broken out. This technology is trained to spot the likely signs of wildfires, and then alert firefighting agencies, who can verify if indeed a fire has broken out. The company hopes to have the system in place by next year’s wildfire season.
“Allianz is committed to helping businesses mitigate extreme catastrophes like wildfires with the most advanced techniques and solutions available,” says Scott H. Steinmetz, P.E., Regional Head of MidCorp at Allianz Risk Consulting. “The 2020 fire season presents unique challenges and complexities that will inherently put our skills to their utmost test. I feel confident, however, that businesses can greatly minimize their losses with advance planning and close communication with their insurance carrier before, and in the unfortunate event that it occurs, during and after a wildfire.”
Business owners should further discuss with their insurance professionals the risks their businesses face as it pertains to wildfire and the need for:
- Property Insurance (including the differences between replacement vs. cash value)
- Business Interruption (also known as business income) and extra expense insurance
- Mitigation solutions and fire protection services available
- Precautionary measures that can be taken today to prevent loss tomorrow
“Preparedness is as vital to an organization as business resilience planning,” said Janet Ruiz, Director of Strategic Communications for the Insurance Information Institute. “We recommend business owners review their insurance coverage to ensure they can adequately rebuild their properties as well as protect their business against major disruptions such as wildfire.”
About Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) is a leading global corporate insurance carrier and a key business unit of Allianz Group. We provide risk consultancy, Property-Casualty insurance solutions and alternative risk transfer for a wide spectrum of commercial, corporate and specialty risks across 10 dedicated lines of business.
Our customers are as diverse as business can be, ranging from Fortune Global 500 companies to small businesses, and private individuals. Among them are not only the world’s largest consumer brands, tech companies and the global aviation and shipping industry, but also wineries, satellite operators or Hollywood film productions. They all look to AGCS for smart answers to their largest and most complex risks in a dynamic, multinational business environment and trust us to deliver an outstanding claims experience.
Worldwide, AGCS operates with its own teams in 33 countries and through the Allianz Group network and partners in over 200 countries and territories, employing over 4,300 people. As one of the largest Property-Casualty units of Allianz Group, we are backed by strong and stable financial ratings. In 2019, AGCS generated a total of €9.1 billion gross premium globally.
About the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I)
Since 1960, the Triple-I has been the trusted source of unique, data-driven insights on insurance to inform and empower consumers. We serve consumers, media and professionals seeking insurance information.
For more information, please visit the I.I.I.’s website at https://www.iii.org/ or follow us on Twitter @III and LinkedIn.