It’s been almost a week since a series of wildfires started igniting across California, causing serious and continuous damages. Unfortunately, these wildfires have taken the lives of around 50 people, burning down thousands of homes of suburban families and even celebrities. Therefore, wildfires and home insurance coverage have become some of the most relevant topics in the last few days.
In order to make sure that we are protecting our homes and our families, there are several aspects we need to consider regarding wildfires and home insurance. The first aspect we need to know is whether or not our homeowner’s policy covers wildfire damage. Then, we should inquire about the types of damage our policy would and wouldn’t cover. If we have been victims of the recent wildfires, we should be aware of the steps to take after the incident.
Does Home Insurance Cover Wildfire Damage?
Luckily, a typical home insurance policy should include coverage for fire damage in their list of perils. Therefore, most policyholders should have a pretty comprehensive fire damage coverage in the event of an incident of this nature. Fire and smoke damage coverage extends to both personal belongings and personal property that resulted damaged or destroyed.
In most cases, the coverage you get can go up to the total of your home policy’s limit, minus the amount of your deductible. We must keep in mind, however, that if we live in an area that is prone to wildfires, we might need to purchase additional coverage.
What Types of Damage Does Home Insurance Cover?
There are several different types of fire damage that are part of a regular home insurance policy. To begin with, our policy would cover the costs of repairing or replacing any parts of our house. This regardless of whether we need a contractor or a plumber. The Dwelling Coverage policy usually includes the cash value or replacement costs of fire and smoke damages.
A Personal Property policy will cover the costs of replacing any personal belongings you might have lost, including clothing, furniture, and any other valuables. Some items like jewelry or antiques might need a separate coverage, though.
There might be the case in which a fire that started by accident in our property extends to someone else’s property and damages it, too. For this kind of situation, we should have a Liability Protection policy, which is usually part of our normal homeowner’s insurance. This will protect us against any legal action a neighbor might take against us.
Lastly, an Additional Living Expenses policy will cover temporary shelter costs if you need to evacuate your home. The amount of the coverage you get will greatly vary, depending on your insurance company. Nevertheless, you should be aware of the limits and exemptions that your particular policy includes.
Steps to Take After Wildfire Damages
Whenever we suffer from fire damages, we need to follow some steps to ensure we maximize the amount of coverage. The very first step to take is being prepared before an incident as this happens. Keeping important documents safe, such as IDs, property titles, and insurance policies safe is essential. Also, keeping a record and documenting our properties and belongings will help us ensure our coverage takes them into account, too.
After an incident, we should keep a record of all the damages to our property and belongings, too. Remember to take as many photos and videos as you consider necessary, and then store them in the cloud.
We should also get in touch with our insurance company as soon as possible. This will make the coverage process easier and quicker. However, we must be aware of the extent of our policy and understand its limits completely. This will keep us from arguing with our insurer, which could make them void our policy.
Once authorities inform us it is safe to return to our homes, we can start working on the repairs. Again, keep every receipt and document all the expenses as accurately as possible. This will allow us, and the insurance company, to work on the proper reimbursement of repairing costs.