If your home, car or business was damaged as a result of a wildfire, here is some information to help you understand your insurance coverage and the various stages of the claims process. If you don't see the information you're looking for, contact Insurance Bureau of Canada's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

You can also direct questions to your IBC regional office:

What insurance covers

Most home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most homeowner's and tenant's insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time. Your insurance representative is at the ready to clarify the details of your policy.

Please note: Home insurance is readily available across Canada. However, when an active wildfire threatens a home or community, it may be more difficult to obtain this coverage until the wildfire is contained or the threat passes. Homeowners at risk of wildfire are encouraged to review or purchase insurance before their home is threatened. Insurers typically will renew home insurance policies when a wildfire is threatening a home or community, however you may not be able to make any substantial changes or purchase a new policy. Any offer to purchase a property during the active wildfire season should include a condition on insurability. If the buyer cannot secure coverage, the closing can be postponed or cancelled. If you are selling a property during this period, do not cancel your existing coverage until after closing. Please contact your insurance representative to help answer questions on your policy.

The claims process

If you have been affected by a wildfire, when safe to do so, take the following steps:

  • Assess and document the damage. Taking photos can be helpful.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items.
  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of the damage and keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all of the receipts related to cleanup, and if you've been ordered to leave your home, keep the receipts for your living expenses.
  • Ask your insurance representative what living expenses you're entitled to be reimbursed for and for what period of time.

Next steps

  • Once you have reported a loss, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. It may take some time, given the number of people affected by the wildfires, but you will be contacted.
  • The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of your loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the 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/or items that have been damaged or destroyed, with the corresponding value or cost of the damage or loss. You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the Proof of Loss form are true. Ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster to clarify anything you are unsure about.

Health and Safety

  • Is air-quality or soil testing covered under my insurance policy?
    • Coverage of any air or soil quality testing is based on the policy's terms and conditions, however, most home insurance policies do not insure the land; therefore, it's unlikely that soil testing would be covered. 
  • My home had a lot of smoke damage and I'm concerned about toxic residue on surfaces. Would testing the interior of my home for health concerns be covered by insurance?
    • Speak with your insurance representative to determine if testing is warranted and if the cost is covered under your policy. 

Anyone with questions should contact their insurance representative or contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

You can also direct questions to your IBC regional office at AskIBCWest@ibc.ca (Western & Pacific regions), ONCIC@ibc.ca (Ontario) or AtlanticCIC@ibc.ca (Atlantic region).