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Wildfire Grading Index launched following losses in Kelowna, Slave Lake and Fort McMurray


June 7, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), a division of Opta Information Intelligence, has developed a new model for insurers to better understand the risk of wildfire-related losses.

The model was developed after FUS studied the wildfire losses in Kelowna, Slave Lake and Fort McMurray and gained a deeper understanding of wildfire urban interface fire risk in Canada, Opta said in a statement on Wednesday.

For more than 100 years, FUS has published the Canadian Fire Insurance Grading Index, helping insurers understand and manage fire risk exposure. The new Wildfire Grading Index follows the same principal concept, Opta reported in the statement. The system provides standardized risk benchmarks for all areas of Canada using the best available technologies including GIS (Geographic Information System), geodatabases, weather databases, historical data, digital satellite imagery and advanced analytics tools. Local and provincial stakeholders can lower exposure by managing risk proactively, the statement added.

The new Canadian Wildfire Grading Index will be released in British Columbia and Alberta in mid-2017, with a full rollout nationwide by year’s end.

Opta has reported that Canadian insurers have requested the creation of this index to help manage the wildfire peril in terms of the risk of large losses for insurers as well as helping communities better understand and manage their risk. FUS is working with Partners in Protection and will seek input from the provincial forest management agencies to establish the criteria for how mitigation and suppression capacities are scored.

By creating an index in a format that the Canadian insurance community is already familiar with, the statement said, “insurers can influence local communities to invest in effective mitigation practices, early detection systems and suppression capacity that will impact the resilience of the communities in the face of an increasing wildfire risk, and reduce the probability of catastrophic wildfire events in the future.”

“This is another example of the Fire Underwriters Survey and Opta providing crucial fire protection data for Canadians,” said Greg McCutcheon, president of Opta, in the statement. “We take great pride in helping insurers and all Canadians prepare and combat fire risk exposure.”