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 Advice for Colorado Homeowners in the Path of Raging Wildfires
June 12, 2013 – With five wildfires burning across the state, thousands of Colorado homeowners are on mandatory evacuations today, and dozens are waking up to the reality that they may have lost their homes in the Black Forest Fire still raging out-of-control north of Colorado Springs.
Residents evacuated as a result of the blazes need to contact their insurance agents or company representatives immediately to provide them with emergency contact information. For homeowners or renters who are under a mandatory evacuation order, they likely have insurance coverage for "additional living expenses" which provides them with a certain amount of out-of-pocket money under their insurance policy while they are forced out of their homes.
"As we find ourselves back in the midst of another dangerous and unpredictable wildfire season, 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 will also have insurance adjusters located at Black Forest Fire evacuation shelters."
Most insurance policies cover additional living expenses if you are under a mandatory evacuation and 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.
RMIIA has this insurance advice for homeowners affected by wildfire:
- Residents evacuated from their homes should contact their insurance agents or companies immediately and let them know where they can be reached. As adjusters are allowed into the burned-out areas they will want to go in with their policyholders to assess the damage.
- Contact your agent or company if you need additional living expenses while you are out of your home.
- Keep receipts. Out-of-pocket expenses during a mandatory evacuation are reimbursable under most standard homeowners policies.
- Be prepared to give your agent or insurance representative a description of your damage. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. Again, be sure to give your agent a number where you can be reached.
- Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help with your claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make two copies--one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
- Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
- Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
- Serious losses will be given priority. If your home has been destroyed or seriously damaged, your agent will do everything possible to assure that you are given priority.
In case of possible evacuation - only if you have enough warning - consider packing the following items:
- Social Security cards
- Driver's licenses
- Credit cards
- House deed
- Vehicle titles
- Marriage license
- Birth Certificates
- Insurance policies
- Home inventory list / photos
- Health insurance cards
- Prescription medications
- Important personal computer information downloaded / cell phone chargers
- Valuable jewelry
- Home videos
- Items with sentimental value, such as wedding dress or baby keepsakes
- One week's worth of clothing
- Pets with ID tags, carriers, and pet food
If you are on pre-evacuation alert take photos or video of personal possession--particularly antiques, artwork or custom/expensive items. Do this only if you have plenty of time--put safety FIRST!
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.