May is National Wildfire Awareness Month

By Tri Phan, CPCU, ARM

Wildfires are unplanned, uncontrolled, and unpredictable fires that result, typically, from either lightning strikes or human causes. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, on average, 80% of all wildland fires on Bureau of Land Management-managed lands are caused by humans (Myslivy 2022).  Further, 16% of the U.S. population currently lives in wildfire-prone areas (Muyskens 2022). On average, more than 100,000 wildfires clear 4 to 5 million acres of land in the U.S. every year.

In our April Blog post, we published an article about 2023 U.S. Wildfire Forecast, Blog Article, with focus on ways to manage the risk of wildfire and reduce the likelihood of loss.  We are revisiting this subject matter because the month of May is National Wildfire Awareness Month.  We endeavor to provide you insight into how wildfires spread and destroy property, and what actions property owners can take to mitigate loss.

Examining the Devastating Consequences of Wildfires in California

In 2018, wildfires in the California caused $22 billion in damage, but the total economic impact, including indirect costs, was $148.5 billion. Would it surprise you to learn that the study revealed that California wildfires affected industry sectors and locations distant from the fires?  Data indicate that 31% of the total losses in 2018 were from outside of California (Wang 2021).

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the 2020 wildfire season was one of the most destructive in California’s history, with over 9,639 wildfires burning over 4.2 million acres of land, destroying over 10,000 structures, and claiming the lives of 33 people (2020).

Assessing the Risk of Catastrophic Wildfires in California for 2023

California is THE most wildfire-prone state in the United States.  From late 2022 through March of 2023, there were 31 atmospheric rivers that hit California and dumped record-setting rain and snow across the state (Toohey 2023). As a result, California is out of the most extreme categories of drought, that is the silver lining.  The additional risk then is that as the weather becomes warmer, and wildland plants begin to dry out, it results in significant fuel load increases and the risk of wildfire is now greater. Therefore, wildfires risk in California and the West Coast this year may be catastrophic, property owners must take precautions to minimize property loss and damage my considering and taking action on ways to mitigate exposure.

How Wildfires Spread and Destroy Property

There are three ways that wildfires and spread and cause damage to property.

  1. Direct flames: Actual flame coming into direct contact with a building/combustible material.
  2. Airborne embers: Flaming airborne embers can travel more than a mile from the active wildfire. 60% wildland interface home ignitions are from flaming embers landing on flammable roofs/objects. (Smith 2009)
  3. Radiant heat: A wildfire can raise the temperature of nearby combustible materials to the point of ignition

This house was ignited by flaming airborne embers landing on vulnerable spots. Notice the adjacent forest is not burning. Photo courtesy USFS-LTBMU.

Recommended Actions:

  1. Create a wildfire evacuation plan and train employees/inhabitants/family members how to use fire extinguishers
  2. Review and distribute a disaster communication plan
  3. Create and maintain a supply list
  4. Plan how property owners can restore critical operations during unplanned disruption in services
  5. Protect property by creating cleared zones that provide less fuel sources for the fire to spread
  6. Clean off the roof and gutters to minimize the risk of ignition
  7. Back up data to the internet cloud or an offsite drive
  8. Review Insurance coverage: Policy limits, time elements coverage should all be reviewed for adequacy
  9. If you need help with any of these recommended steps, email Tri Phan


“2020 Incident Archive.” CAL FIRE, Accessed 3 May 2023.

Muyskens, John , et al. “1 in 6 Americans Live in Areas with Significant Wildfire Risk.” The Washington Post, 17 May 2022, Accessed 3 May 2023.


Smith, Ed, Sistare, Sonya. “Be Ember Aware!”. University of Nevada, Reno. 2009,

Toohey, Grace. “Volcano? Climate change? Bad luck? Why California was hit with 31 atmospheric river storms” 11 April, 2023,

Wang, D., Guan, D., Zhu, S. et al. Economic footprint of California wildfires in 2018. Nat Sustain 4, 252–260 (2021),

AccuWeather’s 2023 US wildfire forecast: Impact on Property Risk Management

Fire Season Expectations

AccuWeather’s recently released a 2023 US Wildfire Forecast, which included data and analysis on 2023’s season. Forecasts expect this fire season to fall in line with average, with increased exposure in a few hot spots. [1]


Peak wildfire season should occur from August into September in Northern California; for those in Central and Southern California, they should expect a peak season of September to November. [2] During these time frames, “lightning from the North American monsoon can be a natural ignition source for fires, while the Santa Ana winds can fan the flames of ongoing blazes and cause them to evolve rapidly into massive wildfires.” [4] Something insurers will monitor is this wildfire season peak’s alignment with the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. [5]

“California saw one of the deepest snowpacks in state history, which will delay the onset of wildfire season, but AccuWeather warns that it will not prevent fires from starting.” [6]  One of the concerns this season is the total amount of combustible material, also known as fuel load. [7] “The recent precipitation will lead to ‘intense growth’ during the spring and first part of the summer, resulting in more fuel for fires that ignite later in the summer and into autumn.” [8] “The winter storms also blew down an abundance of branches, limbs and entire trees.” [9] As a result, California now experiences elevated fuel load levels.

Danger Zone: Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains

“The interior Northwest and the northern Rockies face a high risk of wildfires this year.” [10] This is a result of a winter “that was drier than the historical average.” [11] Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Northern California and northern Nevada will confront elevated exposure because “significant fires could break out as early as June or the first half of July.” [12] However, the “region’s peak of wildfire activity is not anticipated until late July into early September.” [13] Property owners and managers should practice an abundance of caution and ensure their insurance or risk transfer treatment is proper. For a review of your program, email

Danger Zone: Florida

“The Florida Peninsula is running drier-than-historical averages in 2023. These conditions can lead to brush fires this spring.” [14]

The Leader

“Alaska leads the country in wildfire activity, with 3.08 million acres burned in 2022, nearly twice the amount of land in Delaware.” [15]


Lada, B. (2023, April 12). AccuWeather’s 2023 US wildfire forecast. Retrieved from

Term of the week: Fuel load. (n.d.). Retrieved from,materials%20into%20the%20fire%20area).

[1]-[6]; [8]-[15]

Lada, B. (2023)


Fuel load.

Snowpack Levels Up Over 250%: Severe Flood Risk?

Edited March 15th, 2023 by Kyle Langan

In December 2021, Conrey published an article about Sierra storm systems and the benefit to California’s then struggling mountain snowpack. Without these storms, a resulting decrease in the extent of alpine tundra ecosystems could have threatened wildlife.

At the start of February 2022, we revisited this prediction when the Sierra snowpack ballooned to more than double its usual size for that time of year.

Another month and a half later, and the Sierras are now seeing a “historic run of atmospheric rivers and punishing arctic blasts that have filled reservoirs, flooded cities and eased drought conditions across California” (Rodgers, 2023). With two weeks still left in March, the South Sierra Snow Water Content currently sits at 260% of average for April 1st, according to California Department of Water Resources (California Snow Water Content, 2023). In Southern Nevada, the Spring Mountains saw numbers as high as 410% over today’s median:

Check updated California / Nevada snowpack levels HERE.

Source: California Snow Water Content, March 15, 2023, percent of April 1 average (California Data Exchange Center)

As seen in the chart above, the snow water content previously hit its record size during the winter of 1982-83, as tracked by the green trend lines; 2022-23’s current blue trend lines show relief for California’s multiyear drought (California Snow Water Content, 2023). As of March 11th, “52 feet of snow had fallen at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab atop Donner Summit, tying the 1981-1982 season for the fourth-highest total since the lab was created in 1946, said Andrew Schwartz, lab manager and lead scientist. Schwartz expects this season to end up second only to the 1951-1952 winter season when nearly 68 feet of snow fell” (Rodgers, 2023).

Rain-on-Snow Events: Property Exposure

The flood risk is difficult to forecast, but property owners should prepare for atmospheric rivers. “Atmospheric rivers form when a long channel of wind transports water vapor from the tropics, and they produce heavy rain or snow when they make landfall” (Rodgers, 2023). Rain on top of snowpack could bring “rain-on-snow events, when runoff from rain combines with snowmelt to overwhelm watersheds” (Lee, 2023). For example, Kern River normally “runs at 600 cubic feet per second. During a ‘great’ summer river flow, it is around 7,000 cubic feet per second. In the climax of the storm on Friday, March 10th, the river was running at 45,000 cubic feet per second” (Garcia, 2023). Later this spring, uncertainty rises. The risk depends on whether the snowpack melts gradually or rapidly. A series of warm storms later in the spring will elevate property risk due to flooding (Lee, 2023). Property owners do not want a spring heatwave, which leads to more rain-on-snow and potential flooding or mudslides.


California Snow Water Content, March 14, 2023, percent of April 1 average. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Flores, J., & Lee, J. (2023, March 11). Map: These are the areas facing serious flood risks in California storm. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Garcia, L. (2023, March 13). Kern River once again flowing through Bakersfield after Weekend Rain. KGET 17. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Lee, J. (2023, March 13). ‘whole hell of a lot of water up there’: This map shows the sierra snowpack’s record levels. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Natural Resources Conservation Service. California/Nevada SNOTEL Snowpack Update Report. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Radde, K. (2023, March 13). A waterlogged California is bracing for yet another Atmospheric River. NPR. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from,snow%20when%20they%20make%20landfall.

Rodgers, J. (2023, March 12). 52 feet and counting: Lake Tahoe grapples with ‘ginormous’ snowpack. Stars and Stripes. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from

Philadelphia Eagle’s Overlooked Symptom Leads to $43.5M Loss for Medical Provider

Published on February 14th, 2022, by Kyle Langan

Jury’s award:

A jury in Philadelphia awarded former NFL player Chris Maragos $43.5 million after he sued the medical team in charge of treating a knee injury from his time playing as a Philadelphia Eagle. [1] “Maragos accused orthopedic surgeon James Bradley and Rothman Orthopaedics of neglecting to address a torn meniscus” he suffered in October 2017; this led to the “premature end of his NFL career” and caused “ongoing pain and physical limitations.” [2] Maragos endured a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which was surgically repaired by Bradley. [3] However, attorneys said the “medical team ignored damage to the meniscus, even after a May 2018 MRI exam showed the injury worsening.” [4]

Proven Negligence:

Members of the Maragos legal team said they “proved at trial that Rothman Orthopaedics created two separate medical charts for Maragos, one of which failed to include key notes about his injury and recovery.” [5] The jury assigned two thirds of the $43.5 million to Bradley, per reports, which made the remaining third the responsibility of Rothman Orthopaedics. [6]

The Medical Team’s Defense:

During the trial, “lawyers for the defendants argued Maragos suffered his meniscus injury in a weight-room incident several months after his surgery.” [7] Additionally, they highlighted age at the time of his surgery, 31, and eight years of experience in the NFL, suggesting that his career did not have much time left. [8] “Doctors who oversaw his rehabilitation knew of the meniscus issue, lawyers said, but deemed it ‘stable’ and unlikely to respond well to a surgical procedure.” [9]

Risk Management and Insurance Implications:

Medical Malpractice Insurance will defend and indemnify insureds with “coverage for the acts, errors, and omissions of physicians and surgeons, encompassing physicians’ professional liability insurance, hospital professional liability (HPL) insurance, and allied healthcare (e.g., nurses) professional liability insurance.” [10] If your company seeks in-depth knowledge of this protection and limit adequacy, contact me at


[1] — [9]

Bieler, D. (2023, February 14). Jury awards ex-eagles player $43.5 million for medical malpractice. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from


Medical Malpractice Insurance. Medical Malpractice Insurance | Insurance Glossary Definition | (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from

Snowpack Prediction Revisited: Flood Risk Remains

Storms Return

A year ago, our team highlighted the powerful December 2021 storm system along the West Coast as it dropped heavy snow in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Range (Leonard, 2021).

The storm systems were excellent news for the drought-plagued region and its struggling mountain snowpack; without it, a resulting decrease in the extent of alpine tundra ecosystems could threaten some species. (EPA, 2016).

Fast forward to January 2023, and the Sierra snowpack has ballooned to more than double its usual size for this time of year! “A flurry of storms unloaded historic amounts of rain and snow across California over the past month. The deluges, fueled by a parade of atmospheric rivers, filled reservoirs and have improved drought conditions across large swaths of the state” (Lee, 2023). The snow will continue to replenish California’s water supplies as it melts during the warmer months. This is great news for the environment, however, just as we pointed out a year ago, this does bring increased risk for property owners in California. The storm could disrupt travel and damage buildings due to potential flooding. The replenished snowpack sets the stage for potential “flood issues as we move through the snowmelt season, said Michael Anderson, state climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources, at a media briefing on Jan. 16″ (Lee, 2023). Rain falling on snow, in particular, can cause a rapid melt that overwhelms downstream rivers and reservoirs” (Lee, 2023).

It’s Over, Right?

Historically, immense snowfalls in the mountains of the Western United States can cause more flooding in Mexico, Baja California, Arizona, and New Mexico in the spring and summer following winter storms, like in the 1862 flood “that killed thousands, wiped out mines and ranches, and submerged the state capital” (Becker, 2018). This event was capped by a warm intense storm that melted the high snow load, and the resulting snow-melt flood was disastrous (Becker, 2018).

Risk Management Techniques

Reach out to us ( for help with your flood control systems. Flood vents, floodplain management, and wind mitigation are all vital aspects of a risk control strategy for climate risk.

Flood Vents:

A flood vents are a useful guard against the buildup of excess moisture or water which are not healthy for structures to endure. They are permanent openings in walls that allow for the free passage of water. Flood Vents protect houses and buildings during floods by preventing hydrostatic pressure buildup that can destroy walls and foundations. This mitigation technique, allows floodwater to freely flow through an enclosure such as a crawlspace or garage (FAQs SmartVent).

Characteristics of effective flood vents:

  • Free passage of water flows automatically in both directions without human intervention
  • Minimum of two openings
  • No higher than one foot above grade

Flood vents are useful for allowing for the automatic entry and exit of flood waters for an at-risk property. It is a “wet floodproofing” technique is required for residential buildings. Commercial buildings have the option to wet floodproof, which can be more cost-effective compared to dry floodproofing (FAQs SmartVent). Dry floodproofing includes measures that make a structure watertight below the level that needs flood protection to prevent floodwaters from entering.  This type of floodproofing is often used to protect non-residential structures, water supplies, and sewage systems (FEMA).

Mitigation + Floodplain Management:

Further, property owners should also transfer risk to an insurer.

  • Purchase flood insurance
  • Look into Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA)
  • Look for Flood Insurance Route Maps (FIRM) near your area



Becker, R. (2018, May 26). The hardest part of preparing for disasters is overcoming human nature. The Verge. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from

EPA – What climate change means for California. (2016, August). Retrieved December 17, 2021, from <>

FAQs. SmartVent. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2021, from <>

FEMA: Dry Floodproofing. Dry floodproofing. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2021, from <>

Lee, J. (2023, February 1). California’s snowpack may face an emerging risk that scientists are just discovering. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from,and%20the%20Desert%20Research%20Institute.

Leonard, D. (2021, December 13). Storm blasting California with massive mountain snow and flooding rain. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 17, 2021, from <

Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, January 29). Great flood of 1862. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from

3 Risk Management Actions to Prepare for 2023

    1. Conduct diligent inspections of your commercial property and the surrounding area for specific exposures to loss. [1]
    2. Analyze exposures to natural disaster. If property is located in a disaster-prone area, implement mitigation and response measures that will protect it. [2]
    3. Conduct accurate Insurance-To-Value calculations to remain fully protected when loss events occur. [3]


Natural disasters: The frequency and severity of natural disasters continue to rise. “Natural disasters cost the global economy $227 billion in 2022, with under half of those expenses ($99 billion) covered by insurers. This marks the third consecutive year in which natural disaster losses exceeded $100 billion.” [4] Extreme weather events continue to become increasingly devastating and costly. “Weather experts believe severe storms, extreme temperatures, wildfires and flooding are the new norm” due to climate risk trends. [5] “Wildfires again plagued the West Coast in 2022 and widespread drought and heat waves in the Western and Central United States depleted several reservoirs.” For the Midwest, impacts included hailstorms, a powerful derecho and “historic inland flooding caused issues throughout Kentucky and Missouri.” [6] Of course, “one of the most devastating weather events from 2022 was Hurricane Ian. Altogether, the hurricane resulted in 131 fatalities and an estimated $100 billion in total damages.” [7] The insurance industry is attempting to adopt innovative solutions to keep up with weather-related losses; weather readiness is a key area of focus.

Inflation issues: “Fluctuating demand for various building materials, and wage increases across the construction sector” were some of the root causes of inflation issues. [8] “If a loss occurs, property owners could face higher claims costs and encounter underinsurance concerns.” [9] This is why it is so important to consider Insurance-to-value calculations (ITV). Contact me at for a free consultation from my team. As building expenses and valuations are impacted, insureds must demonstrate increased diligence in “performing correct ITV calculations and maintaining ample commercial property coverage.” [10] “An accurate ITV calculation represents as close to an equal ratio as possible between the amount of insurance a business obtains and the estimated value of its commercial building or structure, thus ensuring adequate protection following property losses.” [11]

Reinsurance capacity concerns: “Current natural disaster and inflation trends have proven particularly difficult for the commercial property reinsurance space to navigate.” [12] As a result, “capacity will likely become further constrained in 2023, therefore impacting overall commercial property insurance rates—especially for policyholders with CAT exposures.” [13] CAT = catastrophic loss.

Supply chain struggles: “Production and delivery bottlenecks, widespread labor deficits, extreme weather events and geopolitical conflicts have contributed to a range of supply chain struggle —prompting project delays and increased recovery expenses amid property losses.”  Supply chain risk is rooted both in the economic climate and the physical climate. “Businesses may face increased claims severity if losses require them to rebuild structures or replace property on slower schedules and at higher prices.” [14]

[1] – [14]

2023 P+C Market Outlook Executive Summary – Retrieved  from

Amplified auto losses: are your limits adequate?

It is a sign of tough times when even the insurance companies are struggling. Inflation is driving up auto insurance losses and combined ratios. The amplified insurance claims have inflated at an even faster pace than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the premiums charged by carriers. [1]

According to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, auto insurers saw $14.9 billion in overall capital losses for Q1 2022. [2] Additionally, Loss Adjustment Expenses (LAE) increased 10% in the first quarter 2022. [3]

The reasons for the capital losses, instead of insurers’ typical gains, were increased frequency and severity of losses. [4] US private passenger auto losses spiked 25% in 2021 from 2020. [5] Claim severity reached a record $5,743 in Q1 2022, up 36.5% from 2020 Q1. [6] The average bodily injury claim severity is up 24.2% in this same period. [7]

Insurers are bleeding as a result, as the increase in premiums was “far below the rate of escalating losses.” [8] The worst part? These trends are expected to continue into 2023 or longer. [9]

What does this mean for you as an auto insurance buyer? Bodily injury claim severity is up, therefore, state minimum limits are not adequate. Inflation does not only apply to food and energy; it spans across a multitude of prices. This includes the cost of insurance claims, which have outpaced premiums and CPI. Consult with us to review your limit adequacy.


[1] – [9]

The New Normal? Auto Insurers Continue to Struggle with Inflation. American Property Casualty Insurance Association. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


Prices for this Crucial Protection are Cooling Off

Around this time last year, our team predicted Directors and Officers Liability Insurance (D&O) price increases trending downwards towards flat renewals. Read it here

As 2022 winds to a close, the decreases are coming to fruition. According to Aon’s latest D&O Pricing Index, the average price per million in limits for D&O insurance fell for the second consecutive quarter. [1] “On average, primary policies renewing with the same limit, deductible and carrier saw a 4.0% premium price drop in Q3 compared to Q3 2021.” [2]

“Q3 marks the second quarter of year-over-year price decreases for the public company D&O market, following 17 quarters of increases. At the height of the hard market in D&O, the average price increase reached 26.2% in the first quarter of 2020” [3]. Q3 saw the number of securities class action filings dropped 8.5%, Aon reported, citing Stanford Law School’s Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. [4] This likely acted as one of the root causes of the premium cool-downs.

D&O should not be viewed as an expense, but as an asset to any company; policies cover managerial decisions that result in adverse consequences for both large and small companies alike. [5] It remains an excellent time to evaluate your current D&O risk management strategy. At Conrey, my team and I attack the root cause of what drives D&O rates with a proprietary system of data analytics and enterprise risk management proven to reduce total cost of risk. Contact me at to see how I can do this for your business.



Erin Ayers. (2022, November 2). D&O prices fall for the second consecutive quarter: AON. Advisen Front Page News. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


IRMI – Directors and officers liability insurance. Directors and Officers (D&O) Liability Insurance | Insurance Glossary Definition | (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

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Resilience: Efficiently coping with loss events like Hurricane Ian

Published on September 29th, 2022, by Kyle Langan

As the nation holds Florida in its prayers, hoping the state and its people stay safe in the face of Hurricane Ian, our thoughts are with everyone impacted. A catastrophic loss can happen to anyone at any time; therefore, resilience is crucial. Fortunately for the areas and people stuck in Ian’s path of destruction, the United States is a resilient society. To ensure business and personal resilience, we must ask ourselves, do we view insurance as an asset or an expense?

What is meant by resilience? 

Resilience means having features in place for the following: preparation, prevention, protection, response, and recovery after an accident or disaster. [1] For example, the “U.S. relies on the National Security Council to instill ideas and actions of resilience in their national prevention and action plan for a crisis scenario.” [2] The U.S. is also very advanced terms of economy and insurance penetration; there is sufficient capital in the U.S. to fund response and recovery to a disaster. [3]

A greater presence of insurance (higher insurance penetration) strengthens resilience

A place with a greater presence of insurance will be better able to withstand natural disasters like the recent Hurricane affecting Florida’s eastern coast. [4] With greater insurance penetration, comes a more resilient society. [5] Several economic studies in the last few years have shown that high insurance penetration assists a country’s economy after a major natural disaster. [6] The greater the proportion of insured losses, the less of a decline there will be in economic output following a natural disaster, and therefore the faster the country can recover. [7] In countries with very high insurance penetration, there can even be a positive effect on economic output. [8]

Risk reduction can also be achieved through managing exposure. [9] This includes cutting back on development in high-hazard regions such as coastlines or areas that are prone to flooding. [10] “This harbors enormous potential, but it is a potential that is often neglected in the pursuit of short-term gains, or because poorer people simply have no other places to live.” [11] A further component is reducing vulnerability. [12] For example, “the loss susceptibility of buildings can be reduced by enforcing stricter standards for more loss-resistant construction methods or by using more suitable building materials, while protection measures like dykes can help to reduce the risk for entire areas.” [13] After that come measures for acute catastrophe management, such as early-warning systems, evacuations and emergency aid. [14] These name just a few of the many ways societies, businesses, or individuals can practice preparation, prevention, protection, response, and recovery, therefore improving their resilience.

[1] – [14] (Höppe, 2017)


Höppe, P. (2017, March 9). Resilience: Munich re topics online. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from