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Insurance Industry Eyes Massive Colorado Wildfire

Source: BestWire

Posted on 13 Jun 2012 by Neilson

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FireThe insurance industry is closely watching a massive Colorado wildfire that has burned out of control since lightning sparked the blaze just days ago.
Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, said at least 100 structures have been destroyed. She said it's unknown if those structures were single-family homes, cabins or outbuildings.

Walker said insurance companies are responding to help out their displaced policyholders, but it has been impossible to get a clear damage assessment. She said about 2,600 people have been displaced by the fire.

"We're in a wait-and-see mode for the next couple of days," Walker said.

As of the end of the day on June 11 the blaze, which is being called the High Park fire, was burning about 41,140 acres and had no containment, according to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management. Fire crews are working to quell the flames with work from about 400 firefighters on the ground and water drops from about 20 aircraft.

Angela Thorpe, spokeswoman for State Farm in Colorado, said in an email to Best's News Service the company is meeting with policyholders to get more information on losses. So far the company has had 10 claims reported, with four of those being complete losses.

"As the mandatory evacuations continue, we'll anticipate more claims for additional living expenses," Thorpe wrote. "We're anticipating anything from very heavy structural damage to ash, smoke and slurry damage."

The fire is burning about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. Walker said dry conditions and winds have been fueling the fire. State official have said on an informational website that the fire is being fueled in part by dead trees killed by beetles. One death has been attributed to the fire, according to the website. The fire started early in the morning on June 9.

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.