Life Turned Upside Down: You leave the house in the morning in a hurry to beat the traffic and don’t think twice about if your home will be there when you get back. An out-of-control wildfire is a nightmare that can change Everything!
It’s been an incredibly harsh 2023 wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest. With multiple fires eating up tens of thousands of acres, the fires have impacted almost everyone. From having the worst air quality in the nation, all the way to families losing their homes and possessions! Our lives can become so complex and busy, that we tend to take for granted our basic necessities. Without a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and a vehicle to get around in, the world becomes drastically smaller and more anxious.
If You’re Thinking That Wildfires Have Been Getting Worse Lately, You’re Not Alone
In a recent article from The Spokesman, Matthew Dehr, a wildfire meteorologist, describes the conditions that led to this massive disaster. A higher-than-normal rainy Spring season led to excessive growth of highly flammable “cheatgrass” and other vegetation. Then August’s heatwave and 30mph winds created near-perfect conditions for the fires to emerge! These were the direct causes that aided in the recent Grey and Oregon road fires, taking 2 lives and reducing hundreds of structures to ruble. We mere mortals can’t transform the ecology of our home region to stop the fires from ever happening. We can however hope for best, but plan for our insurance to cover us, if the worst should happen!
In the event of wildfire, whether you’ve got an extra vehicle, motorcycle, RV or trailer parked on the property, it should be noted on either your auto policy or a different specific policy (Ie a motorcycle policy). The automobiles should also have Comprehensive coverage in place. This coverage will cover the cost to repair or replace it, after a deductible has been paid out. Comprehensive is an optional coverage, so it may be worth confirming with your agent that you have selected to include the coverage on your current policy.
Your Home & Contents
Arguably the most important aspect, protecting your home and everything in it from a wildfire disaster. Here are four aspects to review and check off your list.
Your Home’s Structure: A standard home policy covers the damage and overall destruction caused by fire. In the event of a fire damaging the home, your homeowner’s insurance is meant to rebuild or repair the home and remediate any smoke or water damage. Be sure that the estimated reconstruction cost for the home and especially any outbuildings are accurate and as up to date as possible.
Your Personal Belongings: Regardless of if you have a renter’s, homeowner’s or condo insurance policy, standard coverage includes insurance on your personal belongings for damage or loss. Items like clothing, furniture, electronics, tools, etc. Insurance companies also usually cover theft and vandalism – in the event there was any looting at the property.
Keeping an updated inventory of your belongings drastically reduces the stress of trying to remember everything after the items are destroyed or missing. We’ve created a Home Inventory you can use to start or update your records!
New Shelter: Your property insurance should ideally include coverage for expenses related to needing new shelter arrangements. With different options such as hotels, rental units or property and cost for meals out. This coverage is usually called “Additional Living Expenses” and keeps a roof over your head if your home is rendered uninhabitable.
Prevention: If your property is located in a high wildfire risk area, some additional steps to prevent a fire from approaching could make all the difference! Homeowner’s can contract a professional forester or forestry consultant to help in this regard. A forester can help identify if the area could benefit from forest-thinning or even a controlled burn!
Your typical business owner’s policy covers structural property damage from fire. Policies can also cover office equipment and stated inventory of goods. “Business Income” coverage protects your business for estimated income lost as well as extra expenses incurred while operating under disastrous conditions. It’s very important to connect with your commercial agent and confirm these coverages are in place and are up to date.
We can’t control when a wildfire starts, nor the absolute carnage it leaves in its wake. However, we can control how prepared we are for when a wildfire emerges. Our homeowner’s, renter’s, condo, auto and business insurance policies are all created to help us do just that! Taking the time now, to complete a home inventory, confirming our policy limits, and taking steps toward prevention will leave you more prepared than most this wildfire season!
It’s important to have an insurance advocate be able to answer these types of questions. If you’re looking for a fresh and engaging insurance experience, visit the group at Northtown Insurance for all your insurance questions and needs!
Fine Print: This is a general overview with the intention of bringing awareness to coverage options and general industry standards. Coverage varies between carriers and states. Check your policy for specifics.