Wildfires and Your Home in Colorado

Anyone who lives in Colorado Springs, or the state of Colorado for that matter, knows the dangers we face from wildfires and other natural disasters. 

Not only is it important to have a plan and be prepared, but there are some other special considerations to protect your home. 

Wildfires and Your Home in Colorado

DO NOT BE LEFT UNDER-INSURED

With the recent wildfires and loss of homes, homeowners are feeling the sting of salt in their wounds by finding out that their homes were way under-insured. The real estate market has seen double-digit price appreciation the last few years, and more than likely your home value has increased substantially. It is so important to make sure that you have an insurance policy that covers the most current value of your home and the cost to rebuild it. If your policy is on autopay, you probably have not reviewed or updated it recently, which means you could be underinsured by thousands. 

In addition to price appreciation, if you’ve done any renovations or upgrades, your coverage may not reflect that either. In a recent instance with the fires in Colorado, builders were quoting $600/sq ft or more to rebuild, but homeowner policies were only covering $250/sq ft. 

Your monthly premium may increase, but ask anyone going through this very situation right now and they will tell you it’s worth every penny to pay more for your premium than to be hundreds of thousands short from your insurance payout. It’s also imperative to check with your insurance agent, as some companies only pay the full amount if you rebuild your home. If you don’t rebuild, you may only get ⅔ of your valuation. 

*Investment properties are insured differently than primary residence and every insurance company is different with their policies.


More Insurance Considerations

Also, don’t forget to consider the “personal property” portion of your insurance. Not only do you need to make sure you have enough coverage for the actual house, but your belongings inside! Many people think insurance will cut a check for the total amount of coverage (for example, $400k). Sometimes, however, they only give you a portion of that coverage. To protect yourself, create an inventory of all your high value items. Take pictures, keep receipts, make a list. (Scroll for more detailed information below). Don’t get violated twice– by first going through the disaster and losing everything, and then to fight with the insurance company about your belongings. Take a preemptive stance and inventory those items!

Don’t forget flood insurance! “Act of God” floods are treated differently than a washing machine flooding your upstairs. Sprinkler systems are also handled differently. For those with tri-level homes, sometimes the lowest level is considered a basement and may not be covered. It’s important to call and see what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. 

On a separate note, many people with “liability only” insurance on their cars lost everything in the fires. Liability insurance only pays for property damage or injury to someone ELSE. It does not cover your vehicle if it becomes destroyed in a natural disaster. While it may be tempting to reduce coverage when a vehicle is paid off, it can also bring serious repercussions. 


To Do Before Disaster Strikes

  • Inventory of all high value items
    • Take pictures or videos of items like: TVs, computers, tablets, appliances, gaming systems, jewelry, watches, guns, artwork, antiques 
    • In “notes” on the iphone, take a picture of the item & receipt. 
    • Get appraisals on jewelry and antiques
    • Keep receipts! Even take pictures of them before they become illegible
  • Get on your local emergency channels’ notification system. Twitter etc. If you live in a centralized area, find out what that is and let them all know (this also makes a great social media post)
  • Create a bug-out bag. 
    • Money, passports, medications, important documents. OR store important docs in a fireproof safe!
  • If you have minutes to get out, think ahead about what you would like to take.
  • Create and have on hand an emergency supply kit
  • Important docs
    • Photocopy ALL of your medications, drivers’ license, credit cards, passports, etc. Then you will have a digital copy if yours gets stolen, lost, or destroyed etc.
    • Back up hard drives so that you do not lose all photos, docs, etc. You can use a safe deposit box. 
  • Take preventative steps to protect your home
  • If you don’t have a landline at home, call 911 from your cell phone (not during high traffic hours, weekends etc.) and see where your call gets routed. If the nearest cell tower is not the dispatch for your area, that is important to know. You can tell the dispatcher that you are testing the 911 calls in your area – if it goes to the town next door, you can tell dispatch when you do call for an emergency that you need to be transferred to your town’s dispatch.
  • Pets
    • If you have large animals (horses, etc), know where and how you will get them in case of an emergency. The County fairgrounds etc. usually board large animals.
      • Who has trailers? Extra land? Who can board them? 
    • Consider getting stickers made that say Pets Inside. 
    • Make sure your animal has up-to-date collar with tags

HAVE AN EMERGENCY ROUTE OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Sometimes cell phone won’t work when the cell towers get overloaded or they shut the power down. Do not always assume you will have GPS access. You have to know where you’re going and your exits. 

You need to have an emergency plan with your family. Where you will meet etc. Everyone should go there and STAY unless emergency personnel have them move. This also applies to teenagers in school shootings/lockdowns.

*Note – if you or anyone you know is ever involved in a Federal Disaster, there is an IRS Program called IRS Casualty Loss Program and there is help if you are underinsured.


Insurance Agents 

Also, here are the names of several insurance agents in the Colorado Springs area in case you need a recommendation.


Andy Holloman, American Family Insurance 

719-592-0255


Jeff Libby, State Farm

719-593-9200


Jacob Morgan, Farmers Insurance

719-576-2638

Wildfires in Colorado

If you would like a free home valuation from us so that you can determine if you have enough insurance coverage, please contact us. We would be happy to help. 


Here is a wildfire preparation toolkit from the Colorado Springs Fire Department.


Want to know if your home is in a risky wildfire area? Check out this wildfire risk map provided by the Colorado Springs Fire Department. 


Know the burn risk today!

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