Insurance rates rise in red zone
DURANGO – Insurance companies in Colorado have joined other Western providers in raising rates for homes in the red zone.”The real story in Colorado is that you can get affordable home insurance in high-risk areas,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.”But the direction that most insurers are taking is that if you live right against the forest or your home is hard to access, you should take some responsibility for protecting your property,” she told the Durango Herald.Colorado’s last catastrophic wildfire losses were in 2002, when damage was estimated at $70.3 million, including the Hayman fire, the biggest in firefighting history.”We haven’t had large wildfire losses,” Walker said. “But given the conditions, it could be this year or next year or the next.” As of Friday, 176 fires had been reported, burning 653 acres. The longterm forecast called for below average precipitation in region, raising the wildfire threat. But recent rains have helped for the time being.Walker said some companies may choose to require homeowners to make their homes defensible, rather than simply raising rates.”The message is that homeowners can take scientifically proven steps to limit risk,” Walker said. “Insurance companies don’t tell you where to live, but say, ‘We expect you to take steps if you live in a high-risk wildfire area.”‘Kent Grant, assistant district forester with the Colorado State Forest Service in Durango, said his agency helps anyone who asks.”There are numerous wildfire mitigation/preparation/prevention efforts happening in our little corner of the world,” Grant said. “I feel that together they represent a very positive, proactive response that can greatly benefit area residents.”Chris Hudson, spokesman for Allstate Insurance in the region, said the overwhelming majority of its customers are doing what they can to reduce fire danger.Catastrophic fires, including wildfires, caused $6.4 billion in insured losses between 1986 and 2005, with more than $2 billion of that amount stemming from massive firestorms in 2003 in Southern California, said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.
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