“If you are a homeowner, you need to double check that you are not underinsured,” Northglenn Mayor Meredith Leighty said at a June 27 council meeting.
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Northglenn Mayor Meredith Leighty has advice for residents of the Front Range.
“If you are a homeowner, you need to double check that you are not underinsured,” she said at a June 27 city council meeting.
The idea came from Clint Folsom, the mayor of Superior, during the Colorado Municipal League conference when he recounted the Marshall Fire.
“Even though the fire was six months ago and the rest of us have continued on with our lives, a thousand people -- a thousand families -- are not doing that,” she said.
Leighty said he made his message very clear.
“He put out this loud call to action: call your insurance agent, look at your coverage, make sure you’re not underinsured,” she said.
The Colorado Sun reported that 1,084 homes were destroyed by the fire on Dec. 30, 2021. Boulder County authorities said of those homes, 550 were in Louisville, 378 in Superior and 156 in unincorporated Boulder County.
Leighty mentioned that Folsom described how many people affected by the fire turned out to be underinsured: their limit on insurance wasn't enough to cover the full expense of the damage.
Two-thirds of those 1,084 lost homes have insuffiencent insurance to fully cover rebuilding costs, according to an analysis from Colorado's Division of Insurance. Only 76 homes – or 8% of the homes destroyed – had enough insurance for replacement of the home with similiar quality.
Don't wait to investigate
Vincent Plymell, assistant commissioner for communications for Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies, said it’s unfortunate for an event like the Marshall Fire to call people to action.
However, he reiterated the mayor’s advice.
“You don’t have to wait until it’s time to renew,” he said. “You never know when this is going to happen.”
He noted that residents don’t need to be insurance experts and can direct questions to their agents, who should be responsive.
Plymell said if an insurance company or agent isn’t answering questions, then that is a red flag. He recommends contacting the Department of Regulatory Agencies office if this occurs. Usually, once DORA is informed, the insurance company will start moving quickly.
The amount of homeowners insurance purchased depends on the home and should be a conversation between the agent and the buyer. A home close to wildland areas may be different from a suburban home. However, after the Marshall Fire, many folks are realizing a devastating fire can happen anywhere.
He said it’s a balancing act between limits and premiums.
“What are you willing to take on?” he asked.
Plymell also said that all insurers must provide a Summary of Coverage, which explains major coverages, exclusions, cancellation, nonrenewal and increases in premiums.
“These summaries can help people to better understand their policies when they are looking at them,” he said.
He said the office highly encourages residents to contact them with any question, big or small.
Colorado Division of Insurance Consumer Services is reachable at (303) 894-7490 and DORA_Insurance@state.co.us.
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