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Jul 16, 2013 12:28 AM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Damage estimates and insurance rates expected to rise after Black Forest Fire

The initial insurance damage estimates rank the Black Forest Fire as the second most expensive fire in Colorado history with $292.8-million in home and auto insurance claims filed according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

So far 3,630 insurance claims have been filed, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Department 486 structures were destroyed in the fire. The Waldo Canyon Fire is still ranked as the most expensive fire in state history at $453.7-million and 6,648 claims. Though Black Forest Fire destroyed more structures insurance leaders believe Waldo Canyon Fire will remain more expensive because the affected neighborhoods were more urban and packed than the more rural burn areas in Black Forest.

Joe Apsey-Vaughn lost his home on Swan Road in the Black Forest Fire, he's made $2-million in claims.

"Listing everything that you had in the house and trying to come up with an established value for it is really a monotonous time sucking monster," Apsey-Vaughn explained, surveying the rubble of his home.

Insurance agents, like Cally O'Donnell with Allstate, say the processing of claims has been streamlined thanks to lessons learned from the Waldo Canyon Fire and the speed at which emergency officials were able to release the locations of homes that had been destroyed or damaged. O'Donnell said that from the experience of Waldo Canyon she expects the cost of the Black Forest Fire to rise as more people, especially those who only suffered minor damage, continue to file claims.

"They're not even filing claims yet and it's very much from a passionate perspective of 'these people lost everything they have, I'm not going to file a claim yet because I want the insurance companies to focus on those folks who lost everything,'" O'Donnell explained.

O'Donnell said the destruction of the Black Forest Fire will affect insurance rates across the state over the next couple of years. She said the blow can be softened by increasing fire mitigation efforts which can help with insurance rates even after fires, explaining that mitigation efforts helped stop a lot of severe damage during the Black Forest Fire.

Homeowners are also advised to consult with their insurance agents about rate increases, conduct reviews with their insurance companies to see if they have the right amount of coverage and document all their belongings inside their homes through pictures or video.

"It may be a waste of time or it may be the best time you've ever spent," said Joe Apsey-Vaughn.

More information on insurance related to the Black Forest Fire can be found at www.rmiia.com.

 

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