Wildfire Risk Assessment — Alternatives to the WHP

Athena Intelligence
3 min readSep 27, 2023

In the world of property and casualty insurance, there have been a number of AI/ML entrants in wildfire risk assessment.

Athena’s Voice of the Acre® is not “just another AI for wildfire risk model” as some think. Do not fall into the trap of mindless staying with one of the incumbent players. A few hours researching the current tools will leave you convinced there are significant and rather obvious differences.

At Athena, we invite side-by-side comparisons of your last year’s portfolio, or your firm’s past declines. Below is the output of the declines at an MGA whose original wildfire model caused declines for brushfire that resulted in the loss of $16 million USD in potential gross premium.

Risk Score vs Voice of the Acre Comparison | Tableau Public

Most of the insurance world is still focused cat models based on the US government’s Wildland Hazard Potential (the WHP). Here is an example of Athena’s model in an area of Montana.

By highlighting the Green areas, where wildfires are unlikely to spread, underwriters can accept high premiums without adverse selection. By avoiding Red areas, regardless of what the WHP says, underwriters can avoid riskier properties.

For Insurers, Athena has products for underwriting, risk management, portfolio pricing, reserving — for brokers, MGAs, carriers, reinsurers and ILS investors. We have a similar suite of programs for electric utilities.

Athena’s risk assessment is for next 12 months, and is updated annually. (Clients can request quarterly updates or special updates to take into account burn scars.) This is in contrast to the WHP which is updated less frequently.

We don’t know where the fires will occur.

But what we know is that at the end of the year, regardless of how many fires occur or where they occur, clients will be able to look back and know that 70%+ of all fires will have occurred in Red Areas (with the majority in Dark Red or Targeted Red areas). Less than 5% will have occurred in the Green Areas. Less than 1% of all the area involved with wildfires will be in the Targeted Green or Dark Green areas.

For property insurance carriers (and those with binding authority), Athena makes the underwriting decision easy and straightforward — underwrite Green under admitted guidelines, and if your company offers non-admitted or non-standard insurance, underwrite Yellow, with appropriate pricing and guidelines. (Athena gives accurate probabilities to be used as a multiplier for loss costs.)

About Athena Intelligence

Athena Intelligence, headquartered in Sacramento, is a prefire, FireTech, InsurTech data vendor with a proprietary, geospatial, conditional profiling tool that integrates vast amounts of disaggregated wildfire and environmental data. This tool generates spatial intelligence, providing a digital fingerprint of wildfire risk. The company’s innovative solutions empower industries such as power, insurance, and financial services to make informed decisions in risk assessment, portfolio optimization, and loss cost probabilities. Learn more at https://AthenaIntel.io.

Contact us at Info@Project-Athena.com

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Athena Intelligence

Athena Intelligence weaves vast amounts of disaggregated environmental data. Drop us a line (Info@Project-Athena.com), or visit www.athenaintel.io