Wildfire Insurance: Are you covered?
Drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest are expected to fuel more wildfires than normal during the 2015 Wildfire Season, putting lives and property at great risk. Century Insurance Agency encourages homeowners and business owners to take action now to protect your property and make sure you have adequate insurance.
Wildfire damage is covered by standard home and business insurance policies but claims take time and insurance coverage can’t restore irreplaceable family heirlooms and other one-of-a-kind items, so it’s important to do everything you can reduce the chances you'll be a victim.
Wildfire risk in 2015 is expected to be above normal for Washington, Oregon and most of Idaho from July through September. Last year, 1.6 million acres burned in all three states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
2014 also was one of the longest wildfire seasons in U.S. History, according to Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). Wildfires killed 34 Firefighters and torched more than 4.1 million acres nationally.
Century Insurance Agency located in Spokane Valley WA
offers the following tips to help residents protect their homes, families and businesses:
Review your home insurance policy – Contact a representative from your insurance company or your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance, especially if you’ve recently remodeled or built new additions to your home.
Renters Insurance – If you rent, you also need to protect your belongings from wildfire. Consider buying renters insurance.
Defensible Spacing– Clear brush 30 to 100 feet from your home. Keep your yard well-groomed and watered and remove old stumps and weak or diseased trees from your property. Create a buffer zone by landscaping with fire-resistant plants. Contact your local utility company if you notice tree branches touching power lines.
Maintain a complete home inventory – Keep copies of contracts and receipts of your personal possessions in a safe place outside of your home. Take pictures or video of your belongings with your smartphone. Your home inventory can help you and your adjuster settle your claim quicker if your home is damaged or destroyed by wildfire. See below for a link to complete yours, free.
Why do you need a home inventory?
When you make a claim, you need to provide information about what was lost. This is extremely difficult to do right after experiencing a loss.
Imagine coming home to find your house has burnt to the ground. You’re stressed out, you don’t feel safe and you have lost your biggest investment. Now imagine trying to figure out what was lost in the fire. Some things will be obvious, like your television, but others will be tricky to remember like your clothing and kitchen items.
Figuring out what items you have lost is much easier if you have a list of everything in each room of your house. Running down your checklist would make the process less stressful and faster, so you can go about the business of returning back to normal life.
How do you create a home inventory?
First, walk around and record a video of the contents in your home. Get close up to expensive electronics, and try to capture as much information as possible. It will take some time to compile a proper inventory, so until then you can use this video as a substitute.
Next, you need to decide how you will store your home inventory. You can use a tool like the Know Your Stuff app from the Insurance Information Institute (https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html) or put together a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Next, walk through every room of your house, and take plenty of pictures. Take photographs of the room, of expensive items in the room and any identifying information such as model numbers and serial numbers.
Go back to your tool and enter in as much information about each item as possible. Then store it in a safe place, such as in a Dropbox account or folder in your email, so that it can’t be damaged or stolen.
Keep the inventory up to date.
If you move items from room to room, update your inventory. If you recently received some gifts because of the holidays or a birthday, update your inventory. It’s important to update it at least once a year, and more often if you receive or purchase expensive items. An outdated home inventory is better than no inventory, but you might as well spend a little time to keep your list up to date, which could relieve some future stress if you come to need the list.
Update your insurance coverage if necessary
Your home insurance policy has a limit on how much of your personal property it will cover. If you find that the contents of your home are particularly valuable, you may want to increase your coverage so that you are protected in the event of a theft or fire.
Note that some items are not covered or are only covered with low limits under a standard home insurance policy. For example, many insurance policies have limits on items such as collectibles and jewelry. You will want to get separate insurance riders for those items.
A home inventory is a very inexpensive and easy way to save you a headache and precious time, so do yourself a favor and start one today.
HOME INVENTORY WHEN FIRE STRIKES
Century Insurance Agency
1406 N Pines Rd
Spokane Valley WA 99206
*Century Insurance Agency Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.
1406 N Pines Rd
Spokane Valley WA 99206