When wildfire is bearing down on a home, insurance might not be the first thing people think about. But taking a moment to inventory and document your possessions can pay off in the long run.
When under pre-evacuation, it is a good idea to document belongings, said Carole Walker of Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. Even renters who have renter’s insurance should take these steps.
Taking photographs and videos of belongings can be helpful when filing insurance claims for damaged property. Some insurance companies have apps that help residents do this.
One thing to note is that luxury items such as jewelry usually are not included on a standard policy, so customers have to purchase additional policies, she said.
No homes had been lost as of Friday during the 416 Fire, but 1,625 homes were evacuated and 1,272 homes were on pre-evacuation. Residents may not know it, but some insurances policies can kick in during evacuation, Walker said.
Standard policies will include additional living expenses to cover things like hotels and food. It is recommended that evacuees immediately contact their insurance agent to learn how much additional living expenses their policy covers, Walker said. Also, keep receipts to use when filing a claim.
Insurance policies will generally cover structure damage and replacement for belongings, but policies may vary.
For businesses, it is important to have business insurance, and business owners should check to see if their policy includes business interruption. If businesses can’t operate because of evacuations, they may be covered under business interruption policies, Walker said.
A common misconception is that insurance policies are canceled during disasters. This is not true, Walker said. Rather, insurance companies don’t allow customers to buy new policies or expand current ones during a disaster, she said. People must be insured before the disaster starts.
The best way to be prepared, especially living in the West, is to know what policies cover before a wildfire breaks out, she said.