Colorado regulators stress importance of fire mitigation despite favorable forecast

DENVER -- Colorado wildland firefighters are preparing for what is forecasted to be an average or possibly even below average wildfire season.

While this summer’s wildfire forecast may be encouraging, there is still plenty of fuel in the mountains, and Colorado agencies what homeowners to understand the importance of fire mitigation.

Below is a list of mitigation steps from the the Colorado Division of Insurance.

  • Use fire-resistant materials in the structure of your home, especially the roof, which is most vulnerable.
  • Clear a safety zone around your home and remove trees, leaves, brush and pine needles. Create a zone of at least 100 feet, but know that 200 to 500 feet is often recommended.  Also remove overhanging tree branches near your home.
  • Be sure propane or fuel tanks are at least 30 feet away from all structures.
  • Keep the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers inside your home working properly.
  • If you do not have access to a community water system or water hydrant, get a water storage tank. Make sure your garden hoses reach all areas of the property, and keep them visible and in accessible areas.
  • Be sure your entrance road is accessible. Inaccessible roads can prevent fire-fighting equipment from reaching your home quickly. The street address should be easily visible from the entrance to the property so emergency responders are not delayed. 

State regulators say most people in Colorado likely do not need special insurance for wildfires, which are typically covered under the fire damage provisions of a basic homeowners policy. However, the insurance coverage you need depends upon many factors, including the type of home or building you own, its contents, and whether you have a home-based business.

  • Know what type of policy you have. Actual cash value (ACV) policies only cover what the property is worth at the time it is damaged, minus the deductible. Replacement cost policies initially pay the ACV, less the deductible, but once the property is replaced, will pay the difference between the actual cash value and the replacement cost. Your policy should also take into account the cost of cleanup, especially after a wildfire.
  • Review your policy and coverage limits annually to make sure it keeps pace with construction costs.
  • You should have a home inventory, as only an owner knows what’s been lost as a result of a fire, theft or other damages. The DOI is a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which offers a home inventory app – MyHome Scr.APP.book. It helps in identifying losses after a disaster, but can also help you determine how much homeowners insurance you need.  The app is available for iPhones and Androids.  You can also use a downloadable, paper inventory to get started.    
  • Give enough information to your agent or insurance company to make sure you purchase the right coverage. Be sure that you fully understand the contract you sign.  Keep your insurance agent or company updated on any changes that will impact the coverage.

Other Resources
The Rocky Mountain Insurance & Information Association (RMIIA) offers good information on the importance of mitigation on their site for Wildfire and Insurance, as well as facts and figures regarding wildfires in Colorado. And the Colorado Association of Realtors’ Colorado Project Wildfire offers more resources and even a toolkit to help homeowners mitigate their property.

If you still have questions about your insurance, the Division of Insurance has experts to help. Contact us at 303-894-7490 / 1-800-930-3745 (outside of the Denver metro area) / DORA_insurance@state.co.us. For more information, visit AskDORA.colorado.gov. 

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