With hundreds of active wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has deployed its Virtual Community Assistance Mobile Pavilion (V-CAMP) to provide insurance information to affected residents.
“This unprecedented wildfire season has already exceeded all records in terms of area burned in BC and across Canada. Our hearts go out to the individuals and families impacted and who have been forced to evacuate or whose property may have been damaged or destroyed,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Western and Pacific, IBC. “We extend a heartfelt thank you to all the first responders who have been working non-stop to protect people and property. 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.”
The priority right now is ensuring the safety of those affected. Over the past few days, thousands of individuals and families have been forced to evacuate from the affected regions, including the entire city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Several communities in both British Columbia and Northwest Territories are reporting damage to personal residences and commercial structures due to the wildfires. At this time, it is too early to provide any estimates of insured damages, as wildfires are still raging in various regions.
IBC is in close contact with provincial government and emergency management officials, as well as with municipal officials in the affected communities. This situation is changing rapidly. Updates from the BC Wildfire Service can be found at the BC Wildfires Map webpage. Wildfire information for residents in Northwest Territories can be found at the NWT Environment and Climate Change’s Wildfire Update webpage.
Insurers serve as “second responders” in the recovery period after catastrophe strikes. IBC's V-CAMP is staffed with trained insurance industry personnel who are on hand at IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) to help address consumers’ general questions about home, business or vehicle insurance policies. Residents can also visit IBC’s Wildfires webpage to learn more about insurance coverage during a wildfire and the various stages of the claims process.
When the Smoke Clears . . . What’s Covered?
Standard home insurance policies cover damage caused by wildfire, including smoke damage.
Home insurance also provides coverage for additional living expenses (such as temporary accommodation, fuel, and food costs) for individual forced outside their home due to a mandatory evacuation order. This coverage typically lasts 14 to 30 days.
Damage to vehicles from fire is usually covered if comprehensive or all perils coverage auto insurance was purchased. As this coverage is not mandatory, talk to your insurance representative to ensure that you have appropriate insurance coverage.
Tips for Starting the Claims Process
Call your insurance representative. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. When safe to do so take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what coverage for expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.