The Boulder County Marshall Fire destroyed homes, businesses, homes, and other property in Superior, Louisville, and unincorporated Boulder County on December 30, 2021. It became Colorado’s costliest wildfire to date, with initial losses estimated at to at least $2 billion.
In less than 24 hours, the Marshall Fire destroyed 1,089 homes and severely damaged another 149. Property owners have paid insurance premiums and are now fighting the process.
If your home was damaged or destroyed in the Marshall Fire or any other fire, you may be wondering what to do when you need fire insurance. Although reporting a fire to an insurance company is an important step that should be taken as soon as possible, your work does not end there.
Under your insurance policy, you must do certain things that protect your right to recovery. The heat of the house is dangerous and dangerous. But it is important to do this to ensure full recovery as allowed by your policy during this difficult time.
Contact and Follow Up with the Insurance Carrier
After filing your report, contacting your insurance provider is important. The adjuster assigned to your case should call you and arrange a time to come out and assess the damage. If you are asked to provide other documents or proof of your damages, do so as soon as possible. Your insurance policy should let you know what you need to do and what to expect. If at any time you feel like you are being delayed intentionally or unnecessarily, it is time to seek legal help.
Take Photos and Videos
Whether you use a cell phone or another camera, get photos and videos of your property damage. Be sure to label the interior and exterior, and pay close attention to any areas that have significant damage. You should also take pictures and videos of the remaining items to show how much you have lost. For fires, you’ll also want to include photos of any smoke damage.
Collect Old Photos and Videos
How to take pictures and videos of the fire and your belongings, collect them and give them to your insurance company. This helps document what you had before the fire versus what was lost. It will also help you put an accurate price on the personal and finishing touches of your home.
Put Together Inventory
With the help of memories, photos and videos, and talking to your loved ones, put together a page of things you believe you have lost. To the extent possible, put a dollar value on each item or group of losses. If you can figure out what was lost, it might be helpful to search for links to products being sold online today and copy them into your spreadsheet. This is time consuming and painful, but it is necessary. If you do this correctly, the insurance company will not reduce your loss.
Unfortunately, you can’t just take the insurance company’s or adjuster’s word for it. Whatever they tell you, write it down. If they offer you an opportunity to repay the loan, put it in writing and read it carefully. Everything they tell you should be written down so that you have a record of everything that has happened since the beginning of your claim. Submit your information to the insurance company. Find your email address and send messages directly. You may need these documents to confirm what you have been told, or what you have told the organizer. At that point, such records can be useful in any lawsuits you may be forced to take against the company if it does not act in good faith to resolve your fire damage claim fairly and promptly.
Talk to an Insurance Attorney Before Signing Anything
As a claimant, you have the right to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit if the insurance company violates these rights. A claims adjuster may seem like they are trying to save the insurance company money, but paying you right for what you want without any delay is against the policy of insurance.
Don’t blindly sign anything an insurance company offers you without first talking to an experienced insurance attorney. The documents they ask you to sign may contain insurance and legal issues that may affect your rights without knowing what you are signing. Protect your claim by being an informed buyer and an advocate on your side.
Zach Warzel, from the law firm of Keating Wagner Polidori Free, PC, has been representing personal injury and bad faith clients since 2005. His notable cases include a $4.8M jury verdict against a comprehensive insurance company and a $2.2M arbitration award and insurance agent. Mr. Warzel argued cases in the Colorado Court of Appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
Mr. Warzel was named Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America in the Insurance-Litigation area in 2018 and 2022.