3 Key Claims-Filing Tips to U.S.’s Wildfire Victims, from Triple-I

If your home, apartment or business has been either damaged or destroyed by the western U.S.’s deadly wildfires, the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) offers the following advice on how to begin and simplify the claims-filing process.

Start the process as soon as possible

Be prepared to give your insurance professional—either an agent or insurance company representative—a description of the damage to your property and a copy of your home inventory, if you have one.

Your insurance professional will report the loss immediately to your insurer or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you to arrange an inspection of the damage. Make sure you give your insurance professional a telephone number, preferably a cellphone, where you can be reached.

Contact your insurance professional immediately

When starting the claims filing and settlement process, find out:

Whether the damage is covered under the terms of your policy

The timeframe you have to file a claim

How long it will take to process the claim

Whether you’ll need estimates for repairs

Understand what’s covered

Homeowners and Renters

Damage caused by fire and smoke is covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Water losses, or damage caused by firefighters while extinguishing a fire, is also covered under these policies. Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies also cover a policyholder’s Loss of Use (LOU)/Additional Living Expenses (ALE).

It covers the expenses of living away from home if there is a mandatory evacuation or if the insured property is uninhabitable because of a covered loss.

Business Owners

Property damage to businesses by wildfires is typically covered under either a Business Owners Policy (BOP) or through a Commercial Multiple-Peril (CMP) policy.

Vehicle Owners

Vehicles damaged by fire, smoke, and soot are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Nearly four out of five vehicle owners (78 percent) opt to purchase comprehensive coverage, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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