Davis Ranch resident who lost home in High Park Fire pushing for insurance reform

Davis Ranch resident Dale Snyder and his wife, Marilyn, lost their home in the High Park Fire that started on June 9 a few miles west of Rist Canyon. Two months later, the couple is slowly assembling from memory the list of lost contents — furniture, housewares, clothing — for their insurance company.

For the Snyders, having to reassemble their possessions line by line has been the worst part of losing everything. In an Aug. 3 letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, Snyder wrote that “requiring us and other homeowners around the state to (assemble a list) after suffering a loss of this magnitude is extremely inhumane.”

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A retired homebuilder, Snyder said his insurance company, Shelter Insurance, was very responsive in the first few days. “Within two hours after reporting my loss, an adjuster called and they had us in temporary housing in less than a week,” said Snyder. “But accounting for personal possessions means reliving the tragedy over and over and over.”

Snyder said that a better method of handing catastrophic insurance losses is the valued policy approach and he’s hoping that Colorado lawmakers will adopt that approach.

Valued policy laws are similar to life insurance policies in that homeowners pay for a set amount of insurance, then receive that set amount in a lump sum in the event of total loss. Current insurance laws allow insurers to depreciate the value of contents, so a policy valuing a dwelling and its contents at $250,000 will pay a fraction of that amount.

Eighteen states including California, Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas and Nebraska have valued policy laws. Wisconsin enacted its valued policy law in 1874.

Snyder’s organized a meeting for High Park homeowners to discuss valued policy laws on Aug. 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the County Commissioner’s Hearing Room at 200 West Oak Street in Fort Collins. State Rep. John Kefalas and Colorado Commissioner of Insurance Jim Riesberg are scheduled to attend.

For more information on the Aug. 29 meeting, contact Snyder at 970-215-5782 or email dsnyder4@mac.com.