Wildfire risk adaptation: propensity of forestland owners to purchase wildfire insurance in the southern United States
Economic and ecological damages caused by wildfire are alarming, and such damages are expected to rise with changes in wildfire regimes, calling for more effective wildfire mitigation and adaptation strategies. Among wildfire adaptation options for forestland owners is purchasing wildfire insurance, which provides compensation to those insured if a wildfire damages their properties. We attempt to: a) identify factors that influence the decision of family forestland owners in the southern United States to purchase wildfire insurance for their forestlands via logistic regression using landowner survey data, and b) examine the propensity of these landowners to purchase wildfire insurance under climate change. We find that landowners are much more likely to purchase wildfire insurance if they are female or well educated or if their land is not classed as heirs’ property, has been hit by a hurricane, or has not been burned by wildfire before. As climate change is likely to alter future wildfire and hurricane activity in the region, more forestland owners are predicted to purchase wildfire insurance although the magnitude of such an increase appears moderate under current market institutions. These results would be helpful for developing new wildfire insurance programs and increasing the participation of forestland owners in the wildfire insurance market.