Colorado

Jan 26, 2013 8:13 PM by Siera Santos, ssantos@koaa.com

Mountain Shadows homeowners plea for insurance help

While much of Colorado Springs has moved on from the Waldo Canyon Fire, people in Mountain Shadows continue to live the nightmare on a daily basis.

On Saturday morning, homeowners with damages or destroyed houses met with a panel from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) along with local and state officials.

Over 150 people gathered to express their concerns and frustrations, many of whom are still struggling seven months later to get the help they need from insurance companies.

Distraught homeowners gave emotional testimonies. One woman fought back tears throughout her presentation. She wrote on a whiteboard and explained that her only options are to foreclose, sell or fix her home.

"Please God, I haven't begged so much in my life. Just fix my house," she said.

The top six insurance issues ranged from health problems like asthma to denying time limit extensions on claims. All were public pleas to ask DORA to intervene in the battle.

"We do not have the right, the statutory authority to compel companies to do something," said Jim Riesberg, the Commissioner of Insurance for the Colorado Division of Insurance.

It was not the answer the crowd wanted to hear.

"I think there's some disappointment. I think you felt that in the room today at our local officials, certainly the disappointment with DORA and their ability to help us," said Dale Hendershot, one of the meeting's organizers.

A bill died on the house floor last session that would set requirements for insurance agencies. Representative Clare Levy says the language of the bill was "not very aggressive" and requirements included sending out mandatory reminders to homeowners to itemize their belongings. She plans to resubmit the redrafted version next week.

"I wish I would have passed this legislation last year because it would have helped some of these people," Levy said.

Even those who do have a thoroughly documented claim, like Steve Price, still had to duke it out with insurance agents and adjusters. Price has a binder full of photos from his remodeled home that was completely destroyed during the fire. He listed his family's property and estimated depreciation on everything from winter coats to saltshakers.

"I didn't take no for an answer. I challenged them in many cases. Even though my claims have been mostly settled, my goal now is to help other people," Price said.

Homeowners are asking for a public hearing to be held in Colorado Springs.

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