This year’s wildfire season has been devastating for BC, with more than 45,000 people displaced from their homes as a result of evacuations. Some of these residents, such as those in Cache Creek, are now on their way home. The homecoming, however, is bittersweet for many who found their homes damaged by fire, smoke, or fire suppression efforts. Many of these residents may be wondering what type of wildfire insurance coverage they have. The reality is that a long and arduous journey dealing with insurance companies awaits. This can be a daunting process for those who don’t know what to expect.
At Acumen Law Corporation, our lawyers have the expertise to work with insurance companies so fair assessments are made of your losses. One of the common issues that arise in dealing with wildfire-related losses is not whether or not you’ll be covered, but rather how much in compensation you’ll receive. If you have lost your home, the insurance company may be quite reasonable in determining the cost of the structure itself. However, when it comes to assessing the value of various assets and personal items inside the home, disagreements often arise.
Check your policy to determine if you have wildfire insurance
Most BC homeowners’ existing insurance is likely to have provisions to cover fire loss. It’s important to examine your policy to determine exactly what the limitations of your coverage are. If you are covered, the first step to recovering your loss is to make a list. If the property has been destroyed, it’ll be up to each claimant to make a comprehensive list of all insured items that were inside the home. That’s not all, however. After you’ve made this list, you’ll have to show that you actually owned these items and their worth.
Unless they were kept safe somewhere, paper receipts will likely been destroyed by fire. But most big-ticket items that would be worth filing a wildfire insurance claim for will likely have a paper trail from when you made your purchase. Checking bank and credit card records would be a good place to start.
For rare items or antiques, the equation gets a bit more tricky. It can be difficult to prove a hand-woven rug you inherited from grandma is actually worth what you thought it’s worth. There are some insurance policies that provide coverage for rare items, and it would be a good idea to check if that is part of your policy. Particularly when items are older, often insurance companies will factor in depreciation from wear and tear when conducting their assessments. If you have done these steps and remain in conflict with your insurance company on the value of your personal items, you should consider contacting a lawyer to help sort out your case.
What about the car in my driveway? Is that covered by wildfire insurance?
Whether your damage to your car is covered by wildfire insurance may depend on where you parked it. In BC, fire damage is not included in basic car insurance coverage. If your plan includes comprehensive coverage, you are less likely to encounter problems when claiming for the loss of your car. However, if you do not have comprehensive coverage, your homeowners’ insurance may still cover damage to your vehicle, as long as it was parked on private property at your home.
Are there any surprises I might encounter when dealing with wildfire insurance?
Homeowners who have suffered loss due to wildfire may find themselves at one of the lowest points in their lives. The last thing they need is another surprise. However, in our experience many homeowners may be caught off guard by any potential deductibles they may have to pay. Some policies may set a flat rate, such as $5,000 per claim, while others may be variable based on a percentage of the value of your insurable interest. Keep the potential that you may have to shell out thousands for the claim’s deductible in mind.
It would be next-to-impossible to cover every scenario that you may encounter when trying to claim for damages after a wildfire. If you do have further questions, or are struggling to deal with wildfire insurance companies, give us a call for a free consultation at 604-370-3050. We would be happy to help.