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Evacuees Should Contact Insurance Companies As Soon As Possible

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Evacuees of the High Park Fire (credit: CBS)

Evacuees of the High Park Fire (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The High Park Fire in Larimer County has burned more than 40,000 acres and an estimated 118 structures. Many of the people forced out of their homes are now turning to their insurance agents for help.

Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, says people who are on standby need to plan what they would take if they need to evacuate.

“You want to be thinking about financial documents, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards.” Walker said.

She says it’s tempting to take the sentimental things.

“If you have time, take those too.”

She also says those who have time and are not under a mandatory evacuation order can get out a videocamera to document possessions before you leaving.

“If I close my eyes, shut my door and come back, can I remember anything in my home?”

Not only does making a home inventory help people remember, it also serves as proof of what they had, should they need to make a claim.

“In a mass evacuation situation like this, the first thing people need to do is to let their insurance company know where they are.”

On a standard insurance policy, homeowners can access a small amount of out-of-pocket money to help pay for hotels, food or other immediate expenses. Insurance companies are also arriving at the evacuation center to help evacuees get the claims process started.

In planning for the future, homeowners should insure their home for the total amount it would cost to rebuild — and not the market value. It protects against an increase in construction costs.

“If you’re doing renovations to your house, make sure you’re talking to your agent. If you get a new car, you’d give your agent a call. If you get a new kitchen do the same thing,” Allstate spokesperson Stephanie Howell said.

Insurance agents were already on site at the evacuation center.

“They’re caring because that’s your fear that your insurance is only there to make a buck and not really care about your life,” evacuee Shannon Shockley said.

“The main thing is reviewing the current policy because a typical policy has your building coverage, contents, and additional living expenses,” State Farm agent Scott Bluemel said.

For more important insurance information visit the Wildfire Ready section.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfire (Fourmile Fire) and largest wildfire (Hayman Fire) in Colorado history.

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