A big part of returning home after a wildfire is dealing with the insurance company. If there’s been damage to your home or its contents, or if you’ve incurred additional expenses as a result of your displacement, you may be eligible for reimbursement through your home insurance policy. There are 4 elements to your insurance policy you should review during and after a wildfire:
1) Mass Evacuation Coverage: If your home insurance policy includes mass evacuation coverage, your insurance policy should cover some of the expenses involved with any displacements necessitated by a formal evacuation order. This includes temporary accommodations, a portion of food and restaurant expenses, gas and mileage, emergency clothing and toiletries, and medications.
2) Additional Living Expenses Coverage: This part of your insurance policy kicks in after the mass evacuation order has been lifted. If you return to find that your home has been damaged and is now unlivable, your home insurance policy may reimburse you for continuing expenses related to your displacement, such as accommodation and meal expenses above and beyond what your family usually spends.
Additional living expenses coverage can become complicated if your home is livable (undamaged) and the evacuation order has been lifted. Still, you suffer from a condition that makes it unhealthy or dangerous to return to the area. Wildfire smoke contains that can exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and other heart or lung conditions. If health issues prevent you from returning home as soon as the evacuation order is lifted, you may want to call Virani Law, a law firm specializing in insurance law and can help negotiate with your insurance company for continued coverage until it is safe for you to return.
3) Structure / Dwelling Coverage: This can be one of the biggest parts of your home insurance claim, especially in the wake of a wildfire. Wildfires can devastate towns and leave your home unlivable or even completely eradicated. If you’re lucky, your home may only be damaged.
Structure and dwelling coverage will reimburse you for the costs of rebuilding or repairing your home, and you might have coverage for the repair or rebuild of secondary structures like a shed or detached garage.
Typically, the insurance company will get a few quotes to repair or rebuild work and pick the cheapest option. Whatever bid they suggest, the insurer is responsible for making sure the house is rebuilt as it stood before the wildfire. You may want to to make sure your insurance company handles the rebuild of your home fairly.
4) Personal Property and Contents: The fourth and final part of a home insurance claim after a wildfire includes coverage for all of your personal property lost or damaged in the fire. This includes items like electronics, food, clothing, linens, and furniture. Even if your home itself was relatively undamaged by the wildfire, you could be displaced for weeks, and in that time, refrigerated food could spoil. In contrast, pantry food and the fridge itself could become contaminated, leaving you open to filing an insurance claim for the value lost.
If your home was lost in the fire, coverage for personal property and contents insurance could be a significant portion of your overall claim.
Returning home after a wildfire is a challenging experience. With the help of a firm that practices home insurance law, you can make dealing with the insurance company less stressful and add monetary value to the offer they make.