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State offers advice to Marshall Fire survivors as insurance coverage runs out

Most homeowners insurance policies cover 12 months of "additional living expenses." For some Marshall Fire survivors, that means coverage could end Dec. 30.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — The Colorado Division of Insurance is urging Marshall Fire survivors to consult their homeowners insurance policies, as funding to sustain them as they wait to rebuild may expire at the end of the year.

Most insurance plans provide funding for additional life expenses, or ALE, for one year to cover short-term costs like food and hotel bills, plus rent for people whose homes are destroyed, said Vincent Plymell with the state division of insurance. 

"It’s designed to take care of the expenses when someone is put out of their home due to something like a fire," he said. "People will have ALE benefits in their homeowners insurance typically for 12 months or 24 months. Twelve is the more common." 

Additional coverage for two years is often offered for a fee, he said. 

That means many survivors of the Marshall Fire may not have coverage come Dec. 30, the one-year mark since the fire. 

"It’s very important for folks to look for avenues to get these extended if possible," Plymell said.

He recommends survivors ask for an ALE extension by:

  • Checking your policy to determine how much ALE coverage you have.
  • Contacting your insurance provider and asking for an extension for a specific length of time if you have a rebuilding contract in place.
  • If you believe your insurance company has delayed any part of your claim, request that amount of time as an extension.

If none of those options work, he said people can also file a complaint with the division of insurance. 

"We can’t require a company to automatically extend their ALE benefits, but if people feel there has been a delay, we can dig into that and investigate it," Plymell said. 

Plymell said the Marshall Fire served as a wake-up call to people outside of Boulder County too. Twelve months of ALE may not be enough for people as natural disasters like wildfires begin impacting people in more suburban environments. 

"It’s something that people should really consider now. It may not be right for some, but it’s something worth considering," he said. "Now is the time to take a look at your homeowners insurance and be familiar with the policy."

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