Colorado Conifer Fire Ablaze
Insurance Claims – Protecting Your Home
Near Conifer, Colorado a potentially disastrous fire continues to burn and threaten Coloradans’ homes. So far the fire has taken 1 life, 15-25 structures, and 3,000 acres. This fire sparked from a controlled burn set by Colorado Forest Service on Monday, March 19, 2012, with the help of 45mph winds. The controlled burn smoldered and then reignited in Jefferson County along Highway 285.
Colorado homeowners with mountain properties may have received one of the 900 reverse 911 calls that went out urging Jefferson County residents to evacuate. Some homeowners are already facing the devastating loss of their house, and now they must go through the difficult process of reclaiming their lives. Nobody believes that this could happen to them, but it is always best to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
There are a few things to make sure that you do to keep your home and belongings safe.
- Review your homeowners’ insurance policy to make sure you that you have fire protection coverage that covers damage done to both the structure and contents of your home.
- Buy a fire proof lock box to keep all important documents in (birth certificates, social security cards, important receipts, etc.)
- Keep all receipts of purchases, especially important expensive buys. This will help in your claim with the insurance company.
- Keep a list of all items in your home, the insurance company will request a list of all your items you own.
- Make sure that your high limits on your insurance policy. Always over value what your have in your house so that you have high enough limits that you will be adequately compensated for what you lost.
(AP Photo/The Yuma Pioneer, Tony Rayl)
After The Fire
- Secure your property to “mitigate damages”, or minimize harm to your property. This is important because the insurance company will pay the costs you incur to do this, and if you don’t they may not pay for all damages. How you can mitigate damages:
a. If you notice the fire is still smoldering contact the fire department to prevent a flare-up.
b. Check your property often to make sure there are no new damages, or steps that need to be taken to prevent more damage. This is only if you are able to get to your home.
c. Prevent vandalism by boarding up your home and fencing it off. This is can be done by hiring a remediation company that your insurance company should pay for once you file a claim.
- Request an advance. If you evacuated your home, chances are you were only able to grab a few items, and may have missed necessities. You can get an advance on your claim, and you don’t have to file a claim approved before visiting places like Target. Just make sure you purchase reasonable items and keep the receipts, if you buy something more expensive than what was lost in the fire you could end up paying the difference.
- File your claim immediately. All insurance policies require you, the Colorado homeowner, to report your loss as soon as reasonably possible. The sooner you file your claim the sooner you will be taken care of by your insurance adjuster.
- Stay organized. It is important to keep all correspondence with your insurance company, recipients, living expenses and anything else you have lost because of the fire. These documents may be important evidence in your claim.
- Keep track of all your living expenses, but keep in mind the insurance company will only reimburse you for additional living expenses. If you stay in a hotel the insurance company will likely compensate you for this expense because it is on top of what you already have to pay – mortgage. If you stay with family or friends have them itemize how much you are costing them, and the services they are providing. Your insurance company may reimburse them for the cost of hosting your family, remind your insurance company you’re saving them money by not staying in a hotel.
- Keep in touch with your insurance company to ensure they act promptly. Insurance companies are required to act in a timely manner; this time frame depends on the state but can be as little as 30 days. Write a letter to them if they are dragging their feet on your claim, and consider writing your state’s Department of Insurance.
- Consider an attorney. If you feel you are not getting a fair value for your loss, or if you feel the insurance company is forcing you to agree to something, it might be a good time to ask a lawyer. The Sawaya Law Firm always has free consultations, and we’re happy to take your call about any legal issue.
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