How does home insurance work for wild fires?
More than 400 wildfires have blazed across British Columbia this year, destroying everything that comes in their path-including homes. So what happens if you are unlucky enough to be caught up in a wildfire, and how does your home insurance protect your assets?
Homeowners insurance usually helps cover the cost of any damage to your home and belongings after a wildfire. While standard policies will usually help protect against specific perils, such as fire, coverage does vary depending on the insurer and your location. Many policies allow for additional coverage options or insurance riders that may provide stronger protection in the event of a fire that wasn’t your fault.
Quite often civil authorities will issue a mandatory evacuation order if a wildfire is beginning to spread in the direction of a residential area, which leaves your home vulnerable to danger. Luckily, the majority of insurers will provide reasonable additional living expenses for you and your family if you end up in this situation.
What type of insurance coverage will help in the event of a wildfire?
Dwelling Coverage: this coverage protects the actual structure of your home, as well as any attached structures like a garage. Your coverage will help pay for repairs or rebuilding after the fire has passed.
Personal Property Coverage: it isn’t just the actual structure of your home that is at risk from the wrath of a wildfire, think about all of the contents you have inside-sofas, kitchen appliances and special, family relics. Personal property coverage will cover the cost of your belongings, usually as part of a standard homeowners policy. Limitations to apply, however, so make sure you review your policy and determine whether the limits are enough, or consider expanding your coverage.
Landscaping coverage: some policies will offer the option of purchasing coverage that protects your garden. This can be particularly alluring for greenfingered residents who put a lot of time, money and energy into creating their own garden of eden. Whether its rare plants or a beautiful decking area, landscaping coverage will cover the cost if they fall in the face of danger.
Additional Living Expense Coverage: for the most part a standard homeowners policy will cover the cost of reasonable increased living expenses if you have to leave your home for necessary repairs, or if a fire leaves it uninhabitable.
No matter how extensive you think your policy is, its still important for you to remember that every coverage option comes with aa limit and although you might assume you have enough coverage, it's better to check with your insurer before the worst occurs.
How to make a claim
If you are unfortunate to find your home or property damaged as the result of a wildfire it can be a devastating situation, but your home insurance provider is on hand to help. Make sure you gather as much information and evidence as possible, and have all of your paperwork in order, then follow these simple steps:
Fully assess and document any damage; having photographic evidence is particularly useful.
Call your insurer and explain what has happened, explain to them all of the damage of destroyed items. They will tell you where to send your evidence.
Keep all receipts related to cleaning up your property, as well as receipts of any expenses incurred as the result of your home being inhabitable.
Make sure you are in the know about what expenses your insurer will reimburse you for.
Once you have reported any loss or damage, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. The number of people in your area affected by the wildfire determines how long the process will take.
Your claims adjuster will look at the specific circumstances surrounding the damage, examine the documents you provided them with and walk you through the claims process. You should always feel comfortable to ask questions.
You will be required to fill out a proof of loss form, in which you detail the damage to the property or any destruction, along with the value or cost of the items listed. Everything you put on this form must be accurate and true.
Having a home insurance policy in place is vital to protect home. If you are concerned about potential wildfires in your area, and are unsure about the kind of coverage on offer by your provider, give your insurer a call and find out what coverage is available to protect you.