August 22, 2003
BCAA offers answers to home insurance policyholders affected by forest fires
(Burnaby, BC): Fires burning throughout the province, and most recently threatening the city of Kelowna, have forced thousands of people out of their homes. As many residents leave their homes and belongings behind, or are faced with evacuation alerts, the British Columbia Automobile Association's (BCAA) Insurance Division has heard from several policyholders inquiring about their home insurance coverage.
BCAA offers the following answers to frequently asked questions made by policyholders:
· Am I covered for a loss resulting from a forest fire?
o Yes, fire damage is covered under most home insurance policies and this includes damage from forest fires. Most policies do not have an Act of God exclusion.
· Am I covered for mass evacuation?
o Yes, most insurance policies will cover you for mass evacuation as long as the government, police, fire department or civil authority has required you to leave your home. Your home insurance policy should cover any necessary and reasonable living expenses you incur. Keep a copy of all hotel and meal receipts to give to your insurance provider.
· Am I covered for the belongings I take with me when I leave my home?
o Yes, most insurance policies will cover the items you take temporarily away from your home, just as they would if they were left in your residence.
· Is smoke damage from the fires covered? Is damage incurred from fire retardant outside my home covered?
o Most home insurance policies cover smoke damage caused from fires, as well as any damage incurred from the red fire retardant that has been airdropped onto homes. Damage to your home from this retardant is covered, just as is damage from any substance used by fire department personnel.
· I've been given the okay to return to my home, now what?
o If power was lost to your residence, it is essential that you do not open your fridge or freezer, as the food left inside could be rotten and cause damage to your health. Local authorities will advise residents of any special precautions that need to be taken with regards to household appliances.
If you have insurance coverage with BCAA and need to file a claim, call the 24-hour emergency claims number at: 1-800-719-2224, or visit a local BCAA Sales Centre to speak to an insurance advisor. BCAA advises all homeowners with coverage from other providers to consult with their insurance advisor to ensure that they understand their policy coverage.