7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 110
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming
Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524
Insurance Damage Estimates from the Waldo Canyon & High Park Fires Total Nearly $450 Million—Making the Devastating 2012 Wildfire Season the Most Expensive in Colorado History.
July 17, 2012 – The 2012 Wildfire Season has taken a devastating toll on Colorado residents, burning more than 600 homes and personal property. Insurance adjusters are still inspecting properties and working with residents, and while the claims and rebuilding process continues, preliminary damage estimates now total $449.7 million from insurance claims that include smoke damage, additional living expenses, damaged and destroyed homes, as well as personal belongings and vehicles. The estimated insured losses make the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs Colorado's most expensive wildfire with insurance costs totaling more than $352.6 million from approximately 4,300 claims filed so far. Officials put the number of homes destroyed at 346. The High Park Fire near Fort Collins burned 259 homes and based on the nearly 850 insurance claims filed so far the insurance costs are estimated at $97.1 million. These estimates do not include commercial losses.
Previously 2010's Fourmile Canyon Fire was the state's most costly wildfire with an estimated $224 million in insured damage when adjusted for inflation in today's dollars.
"The 2012 Wildfire Season is a heartbreaking reminder to Coloradans that the wildfire threat is very real in our state and can exact a price that is both personally devastating and costly in terms of insurance damage," says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. "Insurance catastrophe adjusters have been on the ground in our state since early June, and the industry is prepared to help impacted residents recover and communities rebuild. The industry has many resources available to help Coloradans work through the claims settlement process."
Wildfire & Insurance Background:
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.