Mercury General takes $253 million hit from California wildfires

Catastrophe came on the back of losses from Hurricane Michael

Mercury General takes $253 million hit from California wildfires

Catastrophe & Flood

By Duffie Osental

Wildfires in California have added to a strenuous year for property and casualty insurer Mercury General Corporation. Following losses from Hurricane Michael in October, Mercury General is expecting total pre-tax gross catastrophe losses of $253 million from November’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire.

The bigger loss comes from Southern California’s Woolsey Fire, which tore through Ventura and Los Angeles counties in early November and damaged prime residential properties in Malibu and Thousand Oaks. Mercury General estimates catastrophe losses from the Woolsey Fire to be approximately $207 million, pre-tax.

On the other hand, catastrophe losses from Northern California’s Camp Fire, which devastated the town of Paradise, are expected to be around $46 million.

“These loss amounts, which will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018, represent the company’s best estimates based on the information available at this time, and could change as new information, including any late reporting of claims, becomes available,” said Mercury General in a statement.

The twin California fires come on the back of Mercury General’s catastrophe losses from Hurricane Michael in October, which Nasdaq reports to be in the range of $4 million to $8 million. The company’s catastrophe reinsurance treaty provides $205 million of coverage on a per occurrence basis after covered catastrophe losses exceed the $10 million retention limit.

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