Insurer Group: Colorado’s Black Forest Fire $292.8 Million

July 15, 2013

The most destructive wildfire in Colorado history caused $292.8 million in insured losses, according to a preliminary report issued on Monday by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The estimates include roughly 3,630 homeowner and auto insurance claims being filed so far in the Black Forest fire. El Paso County officials reported 486 structures burned in the June blaze.

The loss estimate makes the Black Forest fire the second most expensive wildfire in state history, although it is considered the most destructive in terms of number of properties lost. It marks several bad years of wildfire and hail losses, which has impacted the state’s homeowners insurance market.

RMIIA updated insured damage estimates for both the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires in 2012, and the Waldo Canyon Fire remains Colorado’s most expensive wildfire with a loss damage estimate of $453.7 million from roughly 6,648 claims. The High Park Fire, which occurred back-to-back with the Waldo Canyon fire, totaled $113.7 million from roughly 1,293 claims.

The early Black Forest Fire estimates, when compared with preliminary numbers from the Waldo Canyon Fire, show more total property losses, but fewer overall home and auto insurance claims filed so far with roughly 3,630 claims that include smoke damage, additional living expenses, damaged and destroyed homes, as well as personal belongings and vehicles, according to RMIIA.

One factors that play a role in that trend is that Black Forest is more rural and wooded with a wide variety of property types ranging from large, multiple structure home sites to single family dwellings and cabins, according to RMIIA. The Waldo Canyon fire was in an urban neighborhood and densely populated, which would likely add up to more overall damage claims. Estimates do not include commercial losses.

“Wildfire continues to exact a tragic and financial toll on our state,” Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, said in a statement. “But insurance catastrophe adjusters have been on the ground since the first evacuation notice, and the industry is prepared over the long-term to help impacted residents recover and communities rebuild. The industry has many resources available to help Coloradans work through the claims settlement process.”

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