LOUISVILLE, Colo. — One of the biggest issues in the aftermath of the Marshall Fire has been that so many of the victims were underinsured. They're still fighting to replace what they've lost nearly 10 months after the fire.
Even homeowners whose homes were not damaged are now having to help foot the bill due to their homeowner's association's (HOA) policies.
Karen England Horan lost her townhome that she lived in for 16 years. She's stuck figuring out how to move forward.
"I was hoping to retire, and I'm having to put that off because there's so many unknowns," she said.
Insurance issues are not new, but are more complex for those who live in the Wildflower townhome community in Louisville.
One third of the homes in the Wildflower community were destroyed in the Marshall Fire in December 2021. Now, residents claim that because their HOA policy was severely underinsured, they're responsible for bridging the insurance gap, which could end up costing them thousands of dollars.
"We understand that from an insurance perspective, this is the most complicated situation we can have because it deals with an HOA policy," said Wildflower resident Wendy Bohling. "I didn't know anything about insurance until all of this happened. But I had four homes, three rentals and my primary, all impacted by the fire. I've been dealing with two HOAs and three insurance companies."
Denver7 spoke to Stan Hrincevich, president of the Colorado HOA Forum, who said more transparency is important.
"It needs to be communicated to the homeowner, and that's the failure. I think if they would have had that discussion, people would have went back, called their agent, asked if they have enough risk assessment or loss assessment insurance, and some of these financial surprises or shock could be avoided," he said.
Neighbors are now working together to figure out their next steps. They're looking into possibly rebuilding in a more energy-efficient way. However, they said grants and more monetary assistance would be needed for that.
"The best we can do is try to get some of this incentive money that we've got for green incentives, and try to find a way to build these townhomes so that they, at least, are built sustainably," Bohling said. "I think what matters the most is that some good comes out of the situation. And to actually rebuild the townhomes in a way that would be so much more energy-efficient, to be able to lower the footprint in climate change and the impact on the climate would be phenomenal. But we can't do that unless we can get access to some grants or some help."