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Insurance Expert Says Marshall Fire Will Affect Future Premiums Of Homeowners

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS) -- It's been more than two weeks since the tragic day of the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, and while those impacted by the fire have a lot of questions about the cost to rebuild, many more homeowners are also taking a closer look at their insurance coverage.

On Friday, we spoke with insurance expert Carole Walker, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Insurance Association. She says disasters like these factor into future premiums. She says one event alone isn't going to have a direct impact; it's getting into a pattern of risk. When we start seeing events play out more frequently, it adds up over time.

Waldo canyon. Black forest. High park. Cameron Peak: The list of the most destructive wildfires in Colorado is growing, with the Marshall Fire now at the top.

carole walker rocky mountain insurance association
(credit: CBS)

"Unfortunately, we are in this pattern of escalating, volatile, catastrophic risk," Walker said.

Walker told us that pattern is what leads to higher insurance costs for everyone.

"Unfortunately, we are in the perfect storm of Colorado escalating wildfire risk," Walker said. "No matter where you live, this is an alarm for us. You don't have to live in a mountain community in the foothills of Colorado to consider yourself at risk for wildfire."

Add in severe weather such as the billion-dollar hail storm we saw in 2017, and the risk goes up. It's part of the reason Colorado now has some of the fastest growing insurance rates in the country."

"That one event doesn't necessarily reflect in your net premium," Walker said. "But it plays into it time after time and unfortunately tops those lists that nobody wants to be one when it comes to catastrophic risk."

Walker says there are things that can be done to reduce your risk to an insurer and better protect yourself.

"I think this is a wake-up call for everyone that we need to be prepared,' Walker said. "We need to make sure we are navigating properly, making sure we are financially prepared."

Walker explained, for those in the risk business like insurers, they try to find a balance. They need to know they're taking in enough premiums to pay out claims while also trying to keep insurance affordable. She says it is important to reevaluate your policy every year.

In Colorado, state law mandates that insurance premium increases be justified and not unfairly. Discriminatory rates are also highly regulated by Colorado Division of Insurance.

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