Insurance companies doing more to protect some Vail Valley homes |

Insurance companies doing more to protect some Vail Valley homes

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” A couple of insurance companies are trying to cut their losses caused by wildfire.

Chubb Personal Insurance and AIG PCG ” A division of AIG Insurance ” have recently created wildfire protection teams and have stationed them throughout the West.

Chubb will have its local team, based in Glenwood Springs, in Beaver Creek Thursday to both provide advice to the owner of a home there, and update local fire departments about what the team does.

“This is basically the insurance company’s fire department,” said Joe Kelly, a broker in the Avon office of Hub International Southwest. That company works with different insurers, including Chubb and AIG, to provide insurance packages to clients.

But there’s a difference between the insurance company teams and firefighters summoned by calling 911.

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“They work with local fire authorities to prevent damage,” Kelly wrote in an e-mail.

Homeowners insured by both companies get free advice about how to protect homes in wooded areas, and, in the case of new or remodeled homes, what building materials might provide the most protection.

Besides consulting, the companies will each hose down clients’ homes with fire retardant if a wildfire is threatening homes in the area.

Kelly said Chubb’s policy is that if a fire breaks out within three to five miles of a client’s home, a team will be sent to spray down a home with a water-soluble gel. The companies use global positioning system technology to precisely locate homes, and monitor wildfire activity around the clock.

The teams will also help fight fires around the homes of clients if the flames get too close.

Beaver Creek, Cordillera and other high-end neighborhoods are in the Eagle River Fire Protection District. District chief Charlie Moore said he welcomes the additional resources that the insurance companies can provide.

“But I think the main benefit is education of the insured about their risks,” Moore said. Those risks can be reduced through landscaping ” what people in the wildfire business call “defensible space” ” as well as how to build in wildfire-prone areas.

“It’s not the same forest it was a decade ago,” Moore said. “If a homeowner wants to minimize his riska, he should take their advice.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930.

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