Historically, Alberta has been the province in Canada to suffer from the most wildfires. With homeowners insurance policies, fire is an insured peril, and homeowners that have been subject to wildfire damage are able to recover from the majority of their financial losses, minus their policy deductibles and subject policy limits, terms and conditions. Although fire is covered, homeowners that live in areas prone to wildfires should be aware of the financial impact that wildfires may cause and what the claims process is.
Also, it is important to understand what people do and don’t do right with their home insurance when it comes to wildfire situations. One important tip to do right is to ensure that you do understand your homeowner’s policy and have the proper coverage in place to protect you and your assets. For what not to do – don’t ignore evacuation orders or risk the safety of yourself and family by not leaving an area that is being impacted by a wildfire.
What is Covered During an Evacuation
A comprehensive homeowners insurance policy will usually include mass evacuation coverage to provide assistance to homeowners with short-term expenses resulting from having to leave their home.
Typical expenses which are covered include:
- Food, meals
- Emergency toiletries and clothing
- Pet boarding
- Fuel receipts incurred from evacuating to a safe location
Expenses which are not covered include:
- Income replacement
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Regular expenses such as loan payment, mortgage, car payments
If you are faced with having to evacuate your home as the result of a wildfire, make sure that you remember to keep all of your receipts. Although individual policies vary on what limits they will cover, when you are ready to submit your claim, you will want to have a record of all expenses incurred.
If the flames from a wildfire have not directly reached your home, you still may suffer from a number of indirect losses. These can include smoke damage, food spoilage or ash/soot settling in your home and damaging furniture. If an evacuation order is in place, homeowners will face additional costs from having to stay in hotels, purchase meals and items such as toiletries.
In the case of evacuations, unfortunately, it is common for residents to have to remain away from home for several weeks or even longer. Evacuation orders commonly stay in place after the main fire has been controlled as there are a number of other safety factors which need to be considered such as the removal of dangerous debris, restoring critical services such as hospitals, testing air quality levels, rehooking utilities, containing smaller fires etc.
Wildfire Claims Process
Insurance companies recognize the urgency and severity of wildfires and will act to assist homeowners as quickly as possible. Many companies have an in-house CAT Team (Catastrophe Team) which will be dispatched to the affected areas to help residents get the support that they need to survive such as shelter, food, and clothing.
Although the claims process that applies to wildfire damage is the same as other losses, insurance companies react to these natural disasters immediately and make every effort to support their policyholders.
Another must for being prepared for a wildfire is to know exactly what your insurance policy covers and what to expect if faced with submitting a claim. Always take the time to review your policy and contact your insurance provider for any additional details or answers to questions that you may have.
For a free, no-obligation quote on homeowners insurance, contact a member of the Bow Valley Insurance team today.