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Hailstorms and Wildfires in Colorado Tally an Estimated $771 Million

Source: BestWire

Posted on 18 Jul 2012 by Neilson

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Colorado firesJune hailstorms and wildfires in Colorado have racked up $771 million in claims so far, according to estimates from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. One of the wildfires is the costliest in the state's history, while a hailstorm is the fourth-most expensive catastrophe on record in the state.

Wildfires in Colorado burned near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, destroying more than 600 homes combined, the insurance organization said in a written statement. Preliminary damage estimates show losses are totaling $449.7 million from the two fires, which include smoke damages, living expenses, and damaged and destroyed homes.

The fire near Colorado Springs, dubbed the Waldo Canyon fire, is the most expensive wildfire in the state's history. That fire started June 23 and ignited the hillsides surrounding the city, filling the air with a thick haze and the smell of campfires (Best's News Service, July 5, 2012). The fire was fully contained on July 10, but continues to burn in spots, according to state officials. The fire's cause remains under investigation.

Insurers have received 4,300 claims due to the Waldo Canyon fire, which have tallied about $352.6 million, according to the RMIIA. That fire also destroyed 346 homes. Insurers have fielded 850 claims from the massive High Park fire near Fort Collins, which burned down 259 homes. Losses from that fire are about $97.1 million. Neither of the figures include commercial losses.

The High Park fire, which consumed nearly 87,300 acres, was contained July 1, according to information from state officials. That fire continues to smoke and smolder. A lighting strike June 9 sparked the blaze.

"The wildfire threat is very real in our state and can exact a price that is both personally devastating and costly in terms of insurance damage," Carole Walker, executive director of the RMIIA, said in a written statement.

Along with fires, parts of Colorado were pummeled with hail, wind and flooding during a June 6 storm, which reached from South Denver to Colorado Springs, according to the RMIIA. The storm is estimated to have racked up $321.1 million in damages from nearly 70,000 automobile and property claims.

The top five writers of homeowners insurance in 2011 in Colorado were: State Farm Group, with market share of 23.39%; Farmers Insurance Group, with 13.6%; American Family Insurance Group, with 10.42%; Allstate Insurance Group, with 8.84%; and USAA Group, with 8.49%, according to BestLink.