KELOWNA, BC, Aug. 25, 2003 – BC insurers are acting quickly to assist policyholders whose homes and businesses have been affected by the forest fires currently raging in the province, according to Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
“It is important for everyone to understand that forest fires are covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies,” says Lindsay Olson, Vice President Pacific Region, IBC. “There is always some anxiety and confusion over this issue at times like this, and we want to assure everyone that property insurance policies in force at the time of the loss will in fact respond to any damage.” Even if there is no direct loss or damage to a home or property, homeowners insurance policies may also provide some coverage for additional living expenses if the policyholder is complying with a government evacuation order.
Once people have determined that they have had a loss, they should contact their local broker or agent. If this is not possible, but the customer knows which company with which they are insured, they may contact the company directly. If customers have any difficulty contacting any of these organizations, or have any other insurance related questions stemming from the fires, Insurance Bureau of Canada would be pleased to be of assistance. The toll-free number for Insurance Bureau of Canada within BC is 1-877-772-3777.
Another issue generating many questions is that of new policies and renewals in threatened areas. While those who have not had insurance in the past may find it difficult to find coverage immediately in these areas, the industry believes that there is an onus on insurers to take care of their existing clients. “We have determined that insurers are automatically renewing policies for all existing customers, including those at imminent risk,” said Olson.
“We realize that this is a time of great distress for all those affected by the fires. Our industry takes our obligations in these situations very seriously, and we will be doing everything we can to help just as quickly as possible. We responded during the Ice Storm in Eastern Canada in 1998, during the recent Kamloops area fires, and we will be there again now.”