Insurers want Marshall evacuees to call them ASAP – Greeley Tribune

About 30,000 people have been evacuated from the Marshall fire in Boulder County, and although a final tally is not complete, around a thousand homes may have been lost due to the wildfire which is spreading rapidly, with undetermined numbers damaged in what is the most costly of the wildfire state in terms of property damage.

What anyone directly affected by the fire should do, if they have coverage, is contact their insurer or agent as soon as possible, to let them know where they are staying and what they need help with, advised Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Most home and tenant insurance policies cover what are known as “extra living expenses” when someone is forced out of their home. Most work by reimbursement, which makes it important to keep all receipts for expenses incurred, but the money can be provided quickly, Walker said.

The cost of a hotel room, restaurant meals, the expense of buying new clothes for those who fled with only what they were wearing are the types of expenses covered. Stays between friends, families and Good Samaritans who do not charge are not refundable. An expense must be reimbursable and there must be a record of it.

Agents can also help clients find longer term accommodation when needed. Given how tight the apartment and housing markets are currently in the Denver and Boulder subways, Walker said those who won’t be able to return home should try to lock in a new way of life as soon as possible.

As emergency crews move, insurance companies will bring in large numbers of workers from across the country to examine damages and process claims.

“We are mobilizing our State Farm disaster response teams in all affected areas. We also have thousands of employees handling claims across the country in our centralized operations, ”said Michal Brower, public affairs specialist with the state’s largest insurance provider.

State Farm customers can call 1-800-SFCLAIM or submit a claim through the company’s mobile app or online at Customers can also text the word “CLAIM” to 62789 to receive a link to file a complaint. Due to the ongoing pandemic, which hit a new record for daily cases in Colorado on the same day as the fire, many insurance companies are trying to manage as much as they virtually can.

State Farm encourages customers to take advantage of potential options for virtual inspections or other methods that do not always require a personal inspection with their claims professional, said Brower.

The Colorado Insurance Division has set up a hotline to help answer insurance questions like how to get a carrier’s contact information to file a claim. The customer service team can be reached at 303-894-7490 or 1-800-930-3745 for people outside the metro area, as well as at [email protected] or doi.colorado. gov.

“This is a great disaster and the impact on many people will be felt for months to come. The Division expects insurance companies to honor their promises to the Coloradans and provide all possible assistance, ”Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said in a press release. “We will make sure that insurance companies do everything possible to help people.”

A major problem after catastrophic events like the Marshall Fire is that policyholders, typically two in three, find themselves underinsured and unable to fully restore what they have lost, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders. , a San Francisco-based consumer advocacy group that also provides a “road map to recovery” for those affected by disasters.

Sometimes the shortfall reflects the decisions consumers have made upstream to obtain a policy, voluntarily or not. Another reason is that construction and repair costs tend to increase sharply after a major disaster. Contractors are scarce, materials can be more difficult to obtain, and delays can force households to rent for months longer than expected.

This pattern has happened over and over again, but the industry has yet to factor these additional costs into the claims models, Bach said. In one example, an insured the group helped was offered $ 200 per square foot when replacement costs were actually closer to $ 400 per square foot.

“Give your insurance company a chance to do the right thing, but don’t be a cinch,” Bach advised. “Keep your eyes open. Your insurance provider is not a government entity and they are not social workers. They are business people. It really is a question of dollars and cents.

Consumers should be proactive in the claims process, and not just passively accept what an insurance provider offers, Bach advised. But they shouldn’t come in with the boxing gloves on from the start. The people handling complaints are also human and do not respond well to rudeness and hostility, and they have varying levels of experience and expertise.

While the loss of a home is emotional, the claims process is transactional, Bach said, adding that anyone whose life has been turned upside down and their home destroyed on Thursday should expect the process to take longer. and requires more effort than he ever imagined.

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