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Colorado Wildfire Costs Insurers $292.8 Million

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July 15 (Bloomberg) -- The Colorado Black Forest wildfire cost insurers $292.8 million and ruined a record 486 structures, making it the second-most costly fire in the state’s history.

Policyholders submitted 3,630 home and auto claims for the fire, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, an industry group, said in a statement today. The number of properties destroyed compares with 347 total losses in last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. That blaze, in a less rural area, led to more than 6,000 claims and about $453.7 million in insured losses, according to the RMIIA.

The Black Forest Fire started on June 11, killing two people about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Colorado Springs, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office website. The department ruled out natural causes of the blaze, according to a June 26 statement.

“Wildfire continues to exact a tragic and financial toll on our state,” Carole Walker, executive director at the association, said in the statement. “Insurance catastrophe adjusters have been on the ground since the first evacuation notice, and the industry is prepared over the long-term to help impacted residents recover.”

The state’s costliest season occurred in 2012 when insurers had losses of more than $500 million to cover damages from the Waldo Canyon Fire that hit Colorado Springs and the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, the association said.

Policyholder-owned State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the biggest U.S. home and car insurer, has the top market share in Colorado, according to 2012 A.M. Best Co. data compiled by Bloomberg. It is followed by Farmers Insurance Group, which has a management relationship with Zurich Insurance Group AG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Chaykowski in San Francisco at kchaykowski2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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