Insurance Information For Wildfire Victims

Tom Hisrig, the Insurance Commissioner of Wyoming, warns people to prepare in advance for wildfire damage and evacuations by educating themselves on the duties and coverage of their insurance policies. Above all else, consumers need to keep themselves safe and follow all evacuation recommendations given by the authorities.

If there is time, evacuees should take pertinent documents such as insurance policies, insurance cards, inventory lists and inventory videos and pictures. Policy holders should also get in touch with their insurance company after being evacuated in order to let the insurance company know about their displacement and any property damage that occurred as a result of the wildfire.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Policy holders should ask their insurance company if an ALE, or Additional Living Expense, is included in their policy. Usually, this type of coverage provides reimbursement for reasonable and necessary additional lodging and food costs due to home damage repairs and mandatory evacuations. Homeowners should keep receipts for all expenses. It is common for NJ insurance companies to pay approximately 20 percent of the holder’s dwelling coverage limit.

Once they are able to return, homeowners need to list and photograph all of their damaged property. Damaged items need to be kept until after a claim adjuster visits. It is encouraged for policy holders to be at their home when the adjuster arrives. A contractor of the homeowner’s choosing is allowed to be present and review the claims adjuster’s report. While temporary repairs may need to be done to prevent further damage, permanent repairs should not be done until the damage is inspected by the insurance company.

Automobile Insurance

If elected beforehand, comprehensive automobile insurance usually covers vehicle damage caused by heat, fire, smoke and soot. Since this coverage is not mandatory, policy holders need to contact their insurance agent or review their policy to learn the specific coverage details.

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Business Insurance

Business owners whose businesses have sustained damage due to wildfires also have certain coverage. A standard part of casualty and property insurance for a BOP, or Business Owner’s Policy, is called business interruption coverage. While not commonly known by most policy holders, this standard coverage covers income lost by a small business.

In the event of a covered loss, business interruption coverage can cover increased operating expenses, lost profits, temporary location operating costs and reasonable sustained expenses during property repairs. A business owner whose business has sustained fire and smoke damage needs to contact their NJ insurance company to get more information about their insurance policy.

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