Insurance Adjusting & Wild Fires

Is has been confirmed that over 150 structures and homes have been destroyed by a fire which originated in the vicinity of Four Mile Canyon, located miles from Boulder, Colorado. The origin of the fire is unknown at this time and is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Generally, when a fire breaches 500 acres and is not well contained, it becomes a Federal investigation matter. The total value of the structures is unknown at this time, but it expected to exceed ten million dollars ($10M-USD).

Peak Claims, Inc. which is based out of Denver, Colorado has previous experience with wild fire liability claims and direct loss independent adjusting of strutures damaged by fire. Manager Phillip Crimaldi reports that “most wild fires in the Colorado area are caused by humans, or a failure to maintain a duty of care on equipment or other things which produce excessive amounts of heat, but not in every case. In some cases wild or forest fires are caused by natural conditions including excessive heat and drought.” Mr. Crimaldi also indicated that “Unfortunately, even when a fire is directly caused by a person’s failure to maintain a duty of care and no direct proof is available of that breach, such as failing to extinguish a cigarette, the blame is often pointed in a direction that has a viable recovery path where liability coverage exists”.

At last count, the fire was approximately 30% contained but weather continues to change and subject both the fire and fire containment crews to dangerous conditions with no solid hope for recovery.  NPR reported this morning that over 3,500 residents have been evacuated for days.  Conditions do not warrant the return of any residents in the near future as heavy wind gusts, likely due to hurricane season, are likely to fuel the fire and dry out any existing moisture.

Mr. Crimaldi gave a clear point of view on his last wild-fire liability claim experience where, at Canon City, CO in June, 2010, dozens of tents were set up around a high school which was used as the fire incident management center.  Personnel from multiple Colorado and out of state fire agencies were present, along with the BLM, U.S Department of Forestry, Sheriff’s Department and other staff to help support the fire fighting efforts.

Peak Claims, Inc. is a Colorado based insurance and legal claim services company providing adjusting, investigation, subrogation recovery efforts, witness location and other related services for insurance carriers, law firms and self insureds.  The company operates in Denver, Boulder and throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California and other states.  Phillip Crimaldi has a broad experience with fire claims and manages the Colorado offices and operation in other states.

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