Policies help with evacuations
The Canadian Press - Aug 21, 2023 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

All standard homeowner and tenant insurance policies cover damage caused by fires, and also provide coverage to help with the cost of mass evacuations, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“While the focus remains on public safety and firefighting efforts, anyone forced to evacuate or whose property has been damaged can contact their insurance representative when they are ready to start the claims process,” said Aaron Sutherland, IBC’s vice-president for the Western and Pacific region, in a press release Sunday.

Devastating wildfires have forced thousands from their homes in the Northwest Territories and the B.C. Interior over the past week.

A provincial state of emergency was enacted in B.C., with around 30,000 people under evacuation order as of Sunday.

It’s too early to provide estimates of insured damages from the fires as they are still ongoing, said IBC.

In a news release Sunday, the organization advised anyone forced to flee in the Northwest Territories and B.C. to make a list of damaged or destroyed items and keep receipts for expenses they incurred. The more details, the better when it comes to making a claim, said IBC.

In addition to your home and personal property, your insurance may cover the contents of your freezer if it’s spoiled after a power interruption, it said.

Once you report a loss to your insurance company, you will be assigned a claims adjuster who will investigate your losses and help with the claims process, IBC said on its web page dedicated to the 2023 wildfire season. This may take some time because of the number of claims in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the organization said.

While starting a claim sooner may help you get reimbursed sooner, IBC said personal claims can usually be reported within two years of finding out about the damage or loss.

Before the B.C. and N.W.T. fires started rampaging, it was already a record-setting year for wildfires in Canada. More than one in four Canadians told a polling firm in June that they had been affected by fires during the spring.

Months of fires in Western Canada and the Atlantic provinces had already stretched Canada’s firefighting capacity by the time summer rolled around, with international firefighters called in to help over the season and Natural Resources Canada predicting the abnormal fire season would continue.

There are more than 1,000 active fires across the country right now, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre Inc. More than 14 million hectares have been burned by fires so far this year.

All BC Biz Stories