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B.C. wildfire insurance and what you need to know

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If you’ve been impacted by a wildfire, the Insurance Bureau of Canada says most home insurance policies will protect you. “The important thing to know if you have been impacted by wildfires and you have home insurance is that all standard home insurance policies cover you for wildfire damage,” said the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Aaron Sutherland.

Sutherland says given the devastating images coming out of places like Lytton, B.C. where fire destroyed a small town, a standard home insurance policy will also cover additional living expenses like food, shelter, and clothing. “There can be time limits included or limits of those policies. It’s going to vary by individual and the best thing you can do is have those conversations with the insurance companies,” said Sutherland.

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When making a claim the Insurance Bureau of Canada recommends the following steps:

  • When it’s safe to return home assess and document the damage to your belongings and take photos
  • Call your insurance provider to find out what support is available
  • If possible, put together proofs of purchases, photos, receipts and warranties.
  • Keep all receipts related to the cleanup or living expenses  if you’ve been ordered out of your home
  • Ask your insurance provider what living expenses you are entitled to in terms of getting reimbursement and for what period of time.

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If you haven’t been evacuated from a wildfire and you live in a wildfire zone, the Insurance Bureau of Canada recommends planning ahead.  “A good practice is to simply begin taking pictures or even videos of your home and your belongings. If you think about the anxiety you are going to face if you are forced to evacuate or your home is lost to a wildfire, it’s very difficult to remember all the different belongings,” Sutherland said.

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He adds if your property is currently under immediate threat, you will likely have difficulty purchasing insurance.

“Insurance is for unforeseen events and if you have a wildfire coming down the hillside behind your home, that is a very knowable risk and it’s going to be much more difficult to obtain insurance for that.

“Coverage for wildfire is widely available right across the province and across the country. We are not aware of any properties that couldn’t obtain it,” Sutherland added.

“The only exception to that rule is if there is an imminent risk from a wildfire to your property you may face more challenges obtaining insurance at that time.”

For more information, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has set up a tip line at 1-844-2ask-IBC or you can visit:  http://www.ibc.ca

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