Howden launches new US wildfire cover for contractors

Howden has launched a new cover, called the Wildfire Excess Liability Lineslip (WELL), which it said is in direct response to the increasing need for insurance cover for contractors and subcontractors operating in wildfire-prone areas in the US, such as California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona.

Developed by Howden’s casualty team and leading A-rated insurers, WELL is understood to be the first facility of its kind to market.

It will allow contractors engaged in wildfire-exposed areas of operations, such as vegetation management and electrical work for utilities, to carry out vital preventative and repair work.

The broker said that access to worksites is currently typically restricted to contractors carrying a minimum $10m liability insurance, but the required coverage has become very difficult to obtain as available capacity has been significantly reduced across key US, London and Bermudian markets.

Data from Howden’s recent report, ‘Climate in Peril’, shows that global insured wildfire losses increased 500% during 2010-2019 compared to the previous decade.

In California, the state’s eight biggest ever wildfires have burned in the last five years. Accompanying severe losses are now an annual occurrence: more than $40 billion of insured damage has been reported in California since 2017, a quantum more associated with tropical cyclones and earthquakes.

Justin Whitehead, executive director, casualty at Howden, said: “We’ve seen increasing demand for this coverage over the last year as the capacity crisis in this space has become apparent, so we wanted to start 2022 with a product that could really make a difference.”

“WELL was designed in close collaboration with the London market to secure highly sought after excess liability capacity for Wildfire exposed contractors who face a real crisis of capacity. This is not only the first facility of its kind, but the partnership we have seen with insurers demonstrates a willingness across the market to address this emerging risk.”

Mark Colgate, managing director, casualty at Howden said: “This is a great example of the important role the insurance market has to play in society’s response to climate change. Through the innovation and development of new products to address risks that might otherwise go uninsured, we can support the long-term resilience of risk-prone areas and populations.”

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