Insurance claims from the recent Laguna Beach fire alone will reach $435 million, according to an official industry estimate released Tuesday.
There is still no official estimate for last week's Calabasas/Malibu fire, or for the blaze that hit the Altadena area on the same day Laguna Beach was ravaged. However, the Laguna Beach estimate far exceeds initial projections, making it more likely that the insured damage total for the series of wildfires will surpass $750 million.
Property Claims Services, a New Jersey-based trade organization that tallies catastrophe statistics for the insurance industry, said the Laguna fire, which broke out Oct. 27 and swept through the posh seaside community, resulted in about 2,500 claims.
The blaze destroyed 366 homes, many of them million-dollar mansions with ocean views and custom furnishings.
The $435-million claims estimate is for insured damage only and does not include damage to public property or the cost of fighting the fires.
It does include living-expense claims from people who were burned out of their homes or temporarily dislocated because of an evacuation, as well as wind, smoke and fire damage to structures and contents, plus damage to vehicles covered by comprehensive auto insurance policies.
However, the Southern California fires apparently will still trail the disastrous Oakland Hills blaze of 1991, which caused insured damage of $1.75 billion. By comparison, last year's Los Angeles riots produced insured damage of $775 million, although many businesses lacked coverage.
The 1990 Painted Cave fires in Santa Barbara County resulted in insured losses of $265 million, according to Property Claims Services.
Among individual insurers, Farmers Group was apparently hit hardest by the Laguna Beach fire, in dollar terms. Farmers estimated its Laguna-area claims at $60 million, with 94 homes destroyed.
State Farm, California's largest carrier of homeowners insurance, said 126 of the homes it covered in the Laguna Beach area were destroyed, but it estimated its losses at $50 million as of Tuesday.
Allstate reported claims of $57 million between Laguna Beach and Altadena. It did not break the two out separately but said the bulk of its claims were in Laguna Beach.
Chubb Group estimated its losses at $15 million to $17 million for the Laguna Beach and Altadena blazes, with nearly all the damage coming from Laguna Beach.
Property Claims Services, which treats each fire as a separate incident, has officially designated the Laguna Beach and Calabasas/Malibu fires as catastrophes but has not given that designation to the Altadena blaze.
Nevertheless, the organization said it will provide an estimate of total insured damage arising from the entire series of brush fires. It expected to have the estimate ready perhaps as early as Friday, but more likely next week.