No insurance and a devastating fire; Bismarck woman rebuilds, experts explain why it’s hard to insure

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s a heartbreaking story. One Bismarck woman’s life was turned upside down when her manufactured home caught fire. Despite losing everything in the fire, she’s determined to salvage what she can from the rubble and rebuild her life.

On Sunday, a fire left Aja Baker picking up the pieces of her life. The fire tore through her manufactured home, reducing it to ashes. Baker says she was unable to insure her home, which left her at a loss of where to turn. But amidst the rubble, she’s finding strength and hope.

A happy day turned into a nightmare when Aja Baker woke up from a nap as flames consumed her home. What was once a safe haven for this woman, her daughter and her beloved pets, is now gone.

“At some point, I could smell something burning. It smelled like burnt plastic. So, I got up. After I woke up, I went out into the living room to check on the dogs. When I opened the door, it was completely black,” said Baker.

Escaping with their lives, but with nothing else, the family left behind cherished possessions and memories.

“As time goes on, you come back and everything you had is no longer where it was. It’s now under six inches of soaking wet insulation. Your walls are torn down. Your pictures are gone,” said Baker.

A lighthearted question usually asked in jest: what would you save from your home if it caught fire? Before the fire, Baker thought she had the answer.

“I said I would make sure my baby was okay, I would get my animals out, I would try to save any of my Louis Vuitton purses that I was gifted, and my Peloton,” said Baker.

But Baker now faces the reality of being left with nothing — the fate many other manufactured homeowners might face without insurance. She says she had difficulty insuring her trailer, so she went without a policy.

Experts say there are options out there, but the market for insuring manufactured homes is limited.

“The market is less competitive. There’s just less carriers that will do mobile homes, especially when you get into the older ones, it gets to be very limited. Somebody looking to shop around, they may only find one or two other carriers out there,” said Farmers Insurance Agency Owner Kyle Herman.

There are certain factors that can disqualify a manufactured home from the insurance market.

“If somebody has had prior losses, that can affect their insurability. Sometimes a combination of low credit and other factors can impact your eligibility,” said Herman.

Baker now finds solace in the small victories.

“The Louis’ are safe! We did a lot of searching for them,” said Baker.

With no policy payout to make her whole, Baker is reflecting on what truly matters.

“It’s never been about the material things. At the end of the day, it’s always about your loved ones,” said Baker.

Through devastation and loss, Baker is determined to rebuild her life and create new memories despite the challenges that lie ahead.

You can donate to Aja Baker’s GoFundMe here.

Our Farmers Insurance resource, Kyle Herman, says he works with carriers who are able to insure your manufactured home despite certain risks. If your agent can’t provide you with an option, Herman says to ask about surplus lines or an excess carrier. You can reach Herman’s office for more information at 701-255-3655.