Fort McMurray fire: how to help, how to review your emergency preparedness
Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes in and around Fort McMurray in the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history.
The Canadian Red Cross is appealing for donations to assist its relief efforts. To donate, call 1-800-418-1111 or go to www.redcross.ca.
The insurance industry is responding with information, advice, and claims support.
As British Columbians watch this grave situation unfold – and in some northeastern areas of the province, battle their own fires – many are reviewing their own emergency preparedness.
Be ready to go
Evacuations are ordered in parts of B.C. each year. Be ready to go by having essentials in a grab-and-go kit that includes:
- Passports and ID
- Important documents including insurance policies
- Digital backups and archives of documents, home inventories, photos and other mementos
- Food and water
Consult with neighbours – for example, in strata buildings – to determine ways to help each other.
What fire losses are covered by insurance
Most home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most home and tenant’s insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time. Your insurance broker can clarify the details of your policy.
The claims process
If you have been affected by a wildfire, when safe to do so, take the following steps:
- Assess and document the damage. Taking photos can be helpful.
- Call your insurance broker.
- List all damaged or destroyed items.
- If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of the damage and keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
- Keep all of the receipts related to cleanup, and if you’ve been displaced, keep the receipts for your living expenses.
- Ask your insurance representative what living expenses you’re entitled to be reimbursed for and for what period of time.
- Once you have reported a loss, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. It may take some time, depending on the number of people affected by the disaster, but you will be contacted.
- The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of your loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the process. Take notes during the conversations and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Your insurance company will ask you to complete a Proof of Loss form, to list the property and/or items that have been damaged or destroyed, with the corresponding value or cost of the damage or loss. You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the Proof of Loss form are true. Ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster to clarify anything you are unsure about.
Your neighbourhood insurance broker helps to protect your home, auto and business – providing the best coverage and the best value. And because brokers deal with changing situations every day, they are constantly learning and adapting, so that they’re ready to advise and assist when you need them.
Your best insurance is an insurance broker.