FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – After the wildfire devastation Colorado saw last year, 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks wondered what homeowners should be doing right now to protect themselves and their property.
Linda Masterson from Fort Collins wanted to share what happened to her in the Crystal Fire in 2011. She doesn’t call herself a victim. Instead, she calls herself a wildfire survivor.
Masterson’s home burned to the ground in the fire. She’s a professional researcher and writer. Her experience with the fire inspired her to write a book.
“We literally lost everything but each other,” she said.
One of Masterson’s lessons involved insurance.
“Fifty percent or more of people who lose their homes are underinsured by at least 25 percent,” she said.
The Mastersons were underinsured. Their insurance covered the market value of their home.
“They should be basing their insurance on what insurance companies call ‘replacement cost,’ which is what it costs to rebuild your house from the ground up,” Masterson said.
Another lesson she learned is to know how the insurance is paid out. Masterson said there was no lump sum payment.
“You have to rebuild your house on paper, you have to document every single thing you own.”
That’s why she now keeps an inventory log of everything she owns. She has 2,500 line items recorded in the log.
“Try to write everything down in just one closet. That’s the trick. You can’t do that.”
She says also be prepared to evacuate.
“One of my best friends was so rattled, she took her kitty litter, and she left her computer and her cellphone.”
There are a lot of great tips in Masterson’s book, including what it will cost to rebuild a home.