A divide bigger than the Continental
Ryan Summerlin July 1, 2013
If you live in Colorado, did you know that half your home insurance premium was caused by claims from ignorant people who built, and continue to build their homes in a known danger zone? Think of their callousness in leaving the rest of the state so terribly burdened by their narcissistic desire to live where they please, completely ignoring the incredible risk to life and property. And when the inevitable disaster strikes, the rest of Colorado pays the price through their homeowners insurance. How can those people who continue to build homes, malls and airports in the middle of Hail Alley live with themselves?
The divide between the Front Range and the Western Slope is sometimes bigger than the Continental one that separates us. Here, Grand County and elsewhere, we used to live in a forest, but now, according to Governor John Hickenlooper’s Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health, we live in the Wildland-Urban Interface – also known as the WUI. The Front Range forces seem clustered and ready to tackle this newly-defined problem.
The governor’s task force is kicking around some sensible ideas such as stricter building codes to create more defensible homes and allowing more controlled burns. But they’re also talking about increasing insurance rates in the WUI to shelter the rest of the state from the expense of what the Denver Post letters to the Editor calls, us stupid wealthy people who build their homes in the paths of wildfires.
Now I had to think about that. People living on the Front Range want to impose an insurance surcharge to live in the forest because they’re tired of paying for wildfire-damaged and destroyed homes.
They choose to ignore the fact that they built their own homes in the center of Hail Alley and that half the cost of insurance premiums in Colorado is due to hail damage on the Front Range, mainly in the cities of Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs that are all ranked in the top ten of hail damage.
Hail Alley is a real place that rips through Colorado, just like Tornado Alley rips through Kansas. Hail Alley lies east of the Rockies and sweeps toward the point where Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming all meet. This area leads the entire nation on frequency, duration and damage from hail storms. With only two exceptions, the ten most expensive hailstorms in Colorado were centered in the Denver Metro area. The exceptions were the Windsor tornado on May 22, 2008, and the Pueblo hailstorm of July 29, 2009.
In the last 10 years, hailstorms have caused more than $3 billion in insured damage in Colorado. Residents along Colorado’s Front Range can usually expect three or four catastrophic hailstorms that cause at least $25 million in insured damage, every year.
So Gov, how about some relief from those self-centered individuals who plant themselves in a high-risk area and expect the rest of us to pay for it?
Or maybe it’s up to all of us to admit, Global Warming Hoax or not, the environment is changing and seems to be intensifying, bringing challenges that the world has not yet had to face. There may be no solution and there is certainly no unified political will, but blaming each other is a senseless, self-defeating spiral.