Fire victims billed $420,000 by Farmer’s Insurance

A local family was robbed of nearly everything by a fire, and then a big insurance company tried to take the rest plus even more, sending the family a $420,000 bill.

Chris Christoffersen and her daughter Melissa woke up to devastation last October. Their apartment complex was engulfed in flames.

“I watched everything from throughout my life – gone. Gone in just a few seconds,” she said. But, with the donation of many household necessities, things were looking up until the family got a phone call from Farmers Insurance, which insures the apartment complex. According to, Farmers wanted $350,000 to repair the four units damaged in the fire.

“(I thought) I just lost everything in a fire five months ago and you want $350,000 from me?” Christoffersen said.

The fire was ruled accidental by the University Place Fire Department. It started in the area where Christoffersen’s couch was pushed against the baseboard heater.

Asst. Fire Chief Dave Dupille said, “These things happen, they’re accidental. It’s just the way it is and there was no malicious intent discovered at all,”

The next thing she knew, Christoffersen got her first and only bill from a collections agency demanding that she pay $420,000. Neither the apartment management company nor the fire department has ever heard of an insurance company going after a tenant to pay for an accidental fire.

“It’s not a reasonable thing that I’ve ever heard of, no,” said Dupille.

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