5 insurance tips for homeowners and renters during wildfires

AM Extra

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For thousands of Oregonians who have been evacuated due to the wildfires, it may be a long and difficult road to recovery.

Brad Hilliard with the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation joined AM Extra to talk about how homeowners and renters can navigate the insurance process.

He shared five tips for homeowners and renters who have been affected by fire, smoke and ash damage.

  1. Call your insurance company to check your policy. Tell them if you have evacuated. Coverage is typically available for fire, smoke, and ash damage to your home and personal property.
  2. Ask about auto coverage. You need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy to cover fire, smoke, and ash damage, no matter where your vehicle is located at time of the loss.
  3. Save your receipts if you had to evacuate. Your homeowners policy may pay for expenses like lodging, food, and even pet boarding due to a mandatory evacuation.
  4. Make a quick home inventory by taking photos/video of each room in your home (if you have not evacuated and it is safe to do so). Pay close attention to what is on the walls and in drawers and closets. Don’t forget storage areas such as the attic and garage. Check your insurance company’s website for an app or checklist that will help. Or use the Insure U Home Inventory Checklist.
  5. Take stock of damaged belongings. Look through photos and videos to help recall personal items. Be sure to look for smaller items, like jewelry. To the best of your ability, write down the age, original cost, and replacement cost of everything.

Many insurance agencies have issued a moratorium on new policies in the wildfire zone, and are also not letting homeowners increase coverage on current policies.

“Typically that moratorium will be lifted when the threat of a wildfire subsides,” Hilliard said.

For those without insurance, Hilliard said your best bet is to look for assistance from other programs like FEMA or low or no-interest loans from banks.

“As we go forward, some of those resources will come,” he said. “It’s just a matter of waiting and seeing what’s going to be available.”

The ODFR has insurance advocates available if you have more questions. You can call 888.877.4894 or visit their website and click the red, wildfire insurance resources button.

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