Brendan Monahan and his family lost their home and body shop in the Oregon Road Fire that swept through Elk, Washington, in August 2023. Nearly a month after the devastating fire, they are still searching for help and answers as they battle with their insurance company.
Monahan said he was shocked by the lack of support and resources from the authorities and the insurance industry. He said it took about three weeks for an insurance adjuster to show up and look at the damage. He also said that the federal funds authorized by FEMA for firefighting costs did not provide any assistance to individual home or business owners.
“Reality strikes, and that help is not coming,” Monahan said. “I thought there would be resources that would be helpful, but that’s not the situation.”
A huge gap between coverage and value
Monahan’s house and body shop were listed on Zillow for $425,000, but his American Modern Insurance policy had not been updated to match this value. This means that his coverage is far less than his property’s estimated worth. Specifically, Monahan’s policy is only covering $130,000 of the $425,000.
David Forte, the senior policy advisor for Washington’s Insurance Commissioner, said that the first thing people should do when checking their insurance is to get a complete copy of their policy, including endorsements and declaration pages. He also said that people should review their policy every year and make sure it reflects the current market value of their property.
Forte said that if people are unhappy with their insurance company’s response, they can file a complaint with the Office of Insurance Commissioner or seek legal advice.
A community in need of help
Monahan is not the only one who is facing difficulties after the Oregon Road Fire. According to KHQ News, more than 20 homes were destroyed or damaged by the fire, and many residents are still living in tents or RVs on their properties.
Monahan said he feels for his neighbors who have it worse than him. He said he is grateful that he and his family have been able to stay at a friend’s house in Spokane that is currently up for sale.
He also said he hopes that Governor Jay Inslee would consider allocating funds to people who lost their homes and livelihoods in the fire.
“Jay Inslee requested $2,000,000 for the firefighters who fought the fire,” Monahan said. “But I’m thinking, maybe allocating funds to people burned out of their existence, homes, livelihood, would be something to consider.”