Wildfires in British Columbia: Insurance information on additional living expenses to affected residents

August 24, 2021 (VANCOUVER) – With wildfires continuing to threaten communities across British Columbia, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reminding British Columbians of the insurance supports available to them when forced outside of their homes. 

“Our thoughts are with those whose lives have been disrupted and whose homes have been destroyed,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Western and Pacific, IBC. “We want to ensure residents who have evacuated due to the wildfires understand and are aware of the supports insurance provides. Importantly, standard home and tenant insurance policies provide coverage for additional living expenses – for things like food, accommodation and clothing – when a mandatory evacuation order is issued. Canada’s insurers are here to help, and anyone with questions about their home or business insurance should call their insurance representative or IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1‑844‑2ask‑IBC.”

What insurance covers

Standard home insurance policies cover fire damage and additional living expenses (ALE) for items such as food, accommodations and clothing if residents must leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order or if fire damage renders their home uninhabitable. 

When is ALE triggered?

Coverage for ALE is typically trigged by a mandatory evacuation order. This coverage starts on the date of evacuation and typically extends for a period of time determined by your policy. Residents should check their own policies for limits.

Accessing emergency assistance offered by governments and/or other organizations does not impact your insurance claims or the level of insurance supports available.

Once the evacuation order is over, coverage remains in place for a period of time for people who cannot return home because of fire damage to their own or neighbouring properties.  

How to start the claims process

Don’t wait. If you’ve been forced from your home due to an evacuation order, call your insurance representative or insurer today to find out what financial support is available. Discussing your options with your insurer does not mean you have to make a claim and will not impact your future insurance coverage. 

  • Once the evacuation order is lifted and it is safe to return to your home, if your property has been damaged by wildfire, take the following steps before contacting your insurance representative:
  • Assess and document the damage. Take photos and make a list of all damaged or destroyed items as best you can.
  • Keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts, owner’s manuals or warranties for damaged items.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and for your living expenses while you were evacuated.

Next steps – what to expect

  • Once you have reported a loss, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. Given the number of people impacted by the wildfires, it may take some time, but your insurer will contact you.
  • The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of your loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the claims process. Take notes during the conversations and don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Your insurance company will ask you to complete a Proof of Loss form to list the property and items that have been damaged or destroyed.
  • You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the Proof of Loss form are true.
  • If you are unsure about anything, ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster to clarify.

Resources

If you have questions, contact your insurance representative or IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

For additional information, visit BC Wildfires or email askibcwest@ibc.ca.


​About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC's Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @IBC_Pacific or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.