Theater family loses home in Marshall fire (copy) (copy)

Kelly Watt and Phil Rosenberg-Watt stand in the remnants of their Superior home. In response to the fire’s destruction, residents in the eastern grassland area of unincorporated Boulder County must now follow new building regulations requiring them to use ignition-resistant materials before they build new homes.

The state helped Coloradans recover nearly $20 million in additional insurance payments last year, mostly from catastrophic wildfire claims.

A report released Tuesday found that the Colorado Division of Insurance recovered more than $19.6 million from investigating consumer complaints during the 2021-22 fiscal year — an increase of 93% from the previous year. The report attributed this unprecedented increase in recovered insurance funds to complaints related to the East Troublesome and Marshall fires.

“The East Troublesome and Marshall fires were devastating to so many people, and the survivors continue to work through the impacts of that disaster,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. “Naturally, catastrophic events like these will lead to more calls, questions and complaints about insurance. Our team has pursued complaints to recover millions for consumers and to make sure people are getting the coverage they have paid for.”

The Marshall fire was the most destructive wildfire in state history, destroying more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County in December of 2021. Shortly before then, the East Troublesome fire burned over 193,000 acres in Grand County in October of 2020, becoming the state’s second-largest wildfire ever.

Most of the $19.6 million in additional insurance funds recovered last year came from homeowners’ insurance, according to the annual report. Nearly $11 million was from home-related claims, over $4.2 million was from health and life insurance claims and over $2.8 million was from auto insurance claims.

In total, the Colorado Division of Insurance closed 3,032 insurance complaints during the 2021-22 fiscal year, the report found. Life and health complaints decreased 6.7% from the previous year while the property and casualty reports increased 6.6%. However, informal inquiries for both categories increased, by around 18% for life and health and by 13% for property and casualty.

“The division regulates insurance in Colorado ... but an equally vital component of our work is being a resource for Colorado consumers about insurance,” Conway said. “Day in and day out, our Consumer Services Team is working with people to investigate their insurance complaints, recovering money, answering all types of questions, and generally making sure people are treated fairly and get what they have paid for from their insurance.”

Coloradans with questions about their insurance coverage, premiums or claims is encouraged to contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Services Team by calling 303-894-7490 or emailing [email protected].