Black Forest Fire – Insurance Claim Help

Kerri Waite and Karla Price receiving award from El Paso County for service during Black Forest Fire


United Policyholders is a non-profit organization that is a voice and an information resource for insurance consumers in all 50 states.  We have helped guide disaster survivors on the road to recovery for over twenty years, including Colorado residents impacted by wildfires in 2010 and 2012, 2013 and the recent flooding.

First steps to getting oriented and organized:

Take care of your family’s needs first.  If your home is close to a wildfire area and you’re returning to it after an evacuation order has been lifted, read our post-evacuation checklist.  If your home has been damaged or destroyed, here is a checklist to help keep you on track during this stressful time.

  • Housing is a priority – talk to your insurance company about the housing expense allowance.
  • Keep a diary of who you talked to, the number you called, date and time, what was said.  Keep all of your paperwork organized and together.
  • Take photos of your property before any cleanup or debris removal.
  • Get a complete and current copy of your insurance policy.
  • Ask for a cash advance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE).
  • Do not rush into signing contracts and avoid making major financial decisions in the first few weeks.
  • Check references carefully before hiring any vendor or professional

If your home has been damaged or destroyed, request a Roadmap to Recovery Toolkit by emailing your current mailing address to  The toolkit contains a handbook, organizer diary and home inventory flash drive tool.

Here are some items to get you started putting one foot in front of the other on the road to recovery:

Repairs and Rebuilding (Your Home)

Contents/Personal Property  (Your Stuff)

Resolving problems:

Other Resources:

Support Resources:

Disaster Survivor Support Network: Confidential emotional support, insurance and rebuilding tips from previous catastrophic loss victims/survivors through the United Policyholders Disaster Survivor Support Network (“DSSN”) For a list of and contact info for available DSSN recovery mentors, please email your request to and put “DSSN” in the subject line.
Expert Answers to Your Questions:  The ”Ask an Expert” tool is an easy and safe way to ask direct questions to attorneys, claims professionals and previous disaster survivors who serve as UP volunteers and get the answers you need. The expert doesn’t see your contact info, but you can contact them if you want to follow up on their answer. To use the forum, please visit our “Ask an Expert” page here.

Recovery Tools:

  • The Disaster Recovery Handbook/Household Inventory Guide:  Since 2006 “The Disaster Recovery Handbook and Household Inventory Guide”  has been a trusted book that’s led thousands of people through the process of overcoming obstacles to repairing and rebuilding after a major loss.  The book is written in plain language by disaster survivors fordisaster survivors with tips and expert advice from legal, insurance and personal finance professionals.
  • The Roadmap to Recovery Organizer Kitincludes the essential tools for staying organized and recovering financially from serious property damage or loss.  Each kit contains a diary/notebook, essential tips and guidance, business card holders, a pouch for receipts and a messenger bag.
  • Home Inventory Flashdrives:  Most disaster survivors must prepare an itemized and detailed inventory list of every single item they lost in order to recover insurance monies and/or claim tax losses.  Creating this inventory is one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks survivors must complete on the road to recovery.  To ease this burden, UP created a home inventory flash drive that’s pre-loaded with helpful content and is easy to use.

Related Information and News:

Roadmap to Recovery workshop additional reading on wildfire smoke: