Senate committee tweaks homeowners insurance bill

April 16, 2013
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DENVER — Two weeks after hearing testimony from Waldo Canyon fire victims, a Senate committee made a few minor changes to proposed regulations of the homeowners insurance industry.

“We wanted to take some time to consider some of the concerns that were raised by some of the witnesses who came to testify,” said Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk. “Many of the homeowners, not all, said they were more traumatized by the treatment they received from their insurance companies than by the loss of their home. That is a very powerful statement and the inspiration for us to work on this bill.”

The largest change introduced Tuesday ensures homeowners have at least a year to file an inventory of the contents of their house after a total-loss claim for reimbursement. Several people who lost their homes in the Waldo Canyon fire testified that their insurance company didn’t provide enough time to make a detailed account of their possessions that must include every detail down to measuring spoons, electric drills, towels and vases.

House Bill 1225 – which has passed the House 58-6 – also mandates that insurance companies provide total-loss claims with at least 30 percent of the amount the claim covers for contents without an itemized list.

The bill passed the Senate Local Government Committee Tuesday 3-2 with two Republicans voting against it for opposite reasons.

Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said she didn’t think the bill went far enough given the concerns of fire victims who testified.

“This is a great start,” Marble said, urging the bill’s sponsors to consider mandating 24 months of alternative living costs for those rebuilding after a total-loss, noting that 12 months wasn’t enough for many homeowners.

Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, said he might have supported the bill had the sponsors not demonized the insurance industry.

“I guess I just want to stick up for the insurance companies to the extent that there were many, thousands of, claims made that were resolved well,” Balmer said. “I’m just not convinced that the property and casualty insurance companies are doing a bad job. Some homeowners expect to be completely made whole and that is somewhat of an unrealistic expectation.”

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