Damage Estimates from Colorado’s Black Forest Fire Put at $292M

Thousands of claims from Colorado’s Black Forest Fire in June have so far totaled almost $300 million in insured losses, according to estimates released this week by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA).

The RMIIA said that its current estimate means that the Black Forest Fire is, “for now,” the second-costliest wildfire for Colorado, behind the Waldo Canyon Fire that struck the state last summer.

The insurance group also updated claims figures for the Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires, the latter of which also occurred last summer. The latest estimates break down as follows:
–Waldo Canyon Fire: $453.7 million in total insured losses and 6,648 claims
–Black Forest Fire: $292.8 million in total insured losses and 3,630 claims
–High Park Fire: $113.7 million in total insured losses and 1,293 claims

Carole Walker, RMIIA’s executive director, said that there is no breakdown of claims between coverage types.

“Many of the companies only provided us with total claims numbers filed so far,” she told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN).

Policyholders have been filing more claims for total property losses for the Black Forest Fire than the Waldo Canyon Fire, according to the RMIIA, which added that this was likely due in part to the different characteristics that those areas have.

“Black Forest is more rural and wooded with a wide variety of property types ranging from large, multiple structure home sites to single family dwellings and cabins,” the group said. “Waldo Canyon is an urban neighborhood and densely populated, which would likely add up to more overall damage claims.”

In fact, most of the losses so far from the Black Forest Fire are total property losses, Walker said, with Colorado auto insurance claims being a much smaller portion of claims than they were for the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Auto claims aren’t a significant part of losses from the Black Forest Fire because an evacuation notice was distributed before the disaster struck, according to Walker.

“Most people were on alert prior to the fire and drove cars out,” she told OAIN.

Policyholders who do find their vehicles damaged or destroyed by fire are covered under the comprehensive option of their auto policy, an optional purchase that protects motorists in the event a vehicle is stolen or damaged “in ways that don’t involve a collision,” according to Walker.

Fire is just one type of damage covered under comprehensive. Hail, theft, flood and falling objects are among the other types of damage that are covered.

The RMIIA provides this resource for those undergoing the auto claims process.

“Wildfire continues to exact a tragic and financial toll on our state,” Walker said. “But insurance catastrophe adjusters have been on the ground since the first evacuation notice, and the industry is prepared over the long-term to help impacted residents recover and communities rebuild.”

(Photo courtesy of Fort Carson)

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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