|7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 130
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming
Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524
Wildfires Force More Coloradans Out of Their Homes—Others Will Return to Damaged or Destroyed Homes: Both Need to Understand How Their Insurance Works.
June 18, 2012 – Hundreds of Colorado homeowners again received evacuation orders yesterday from the High Park Fire, near Fort Collins and the new Springer Fire, south of Lake George. In addition, with the announcement over the weekend of 181 homes lost so far to the High Park Fire, people are beginning to work through the insurance claims settlement process.
"As this dangerous and unpredictable wildfire season forces people from their homes and continues to exact a devastating toll, it is critical that everyone understands the role their insurance plays in evacuations and in the process of rebuilding their lives," says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "Insurance contact information is posted at www.rmiia.org and some companies also have insurance adjusters located at the Disaster Recovery Center and the Ranch Complex evacuation shelter."
Most insurance policies also cover additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your house or apartment because of a fire or other covered peril. Most policies will reimburse you the difference between your additional living expenses and your normal living expenses, but do have set limits on the amount they will pay and may be subject to a deductible.
Advice for Filing Insurance Claims
Residents with homeowners insurance have coverage under the policy limits to repair and rebuild the structure of their home, replace their personal belongings and additional living expenses if they need to live elsewhere while their home is being repaired or rebuilt. Make sure you are working with your insurance company's adjuster (that's who your contract is with) and a reputable contractor. Cars that are damaged or destroyed are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of your auto policy. Renters insurance pays to replace personal belongings up to the policy limits.
Keep in mind that it is a process that needs to be worked through step-by-step, but there is plenty of assistance available to you through your insurance company and other financial service providers.
Insurance Claims Settlement Advice:
Tips for Selecting a Reputable Contractor
Don't become a victim of disaster fraud. After a headline capturing fire or natural disaster, professionals often go from door-to-door in damaged neighborhoods, offering clean up or repair services. Many of these business people are reputable. Others are not. The dishonest ones may pocket payment without completing the job or use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code.
- Get more than one estimate. Don't be pushed into signing a contract right away.
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, materials, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
- Demand references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number and license plate number.
- Ask for proof that the contractor is bonded, carries liability insurance, and covers his/her workers with workers compensation insurance.
- The contractor's business card should have a verifiable street address and office phone number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. Request a lien waiver indicating the contractor has paid its subcontractors and suppliers.
- Insurance coverage may be rendered void if intentional misrepresentation by a policyholder is discovered.
- If you believe you have been approached by an unlicensed contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the National Insurance Crime Bureau Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).
For more consumer information on insurance topics, logon to www.rmiia.org.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.