Insurance tips for those returning home to Fort McMurray

Insurance tips from IBC as residents return to their homes after wildfire evacuation

Halifax, NS (June 1, 2016) – Thousands of Fort McMurray residents are returning to their homes following the evacuations because of the wildfire. This will be a difficult and trying time for many residents. Those with damage to their properties will likely have a number of questions and that’s why Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is in the community and reaching out with tips and information to help residents over the coming days and weeks.

“We can appreciate that residents feel overwhelmed as they re-enter their community. That’s why we are on the ground in Fort McMurray and are here to help,” said Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western and Pacific, IBC. “The insurance industry has over 1,400 people mobilized to help residents manage what will be a very difficult time.”

Some of the primary concerns of residents right now relate to their living expenses, how to file an insurance claim and how to dispose of damaged fridges and freezers.

It’s important that Fort McMurray residents contact their insurance representatives to discuss their options and eligibility for coverage as they make the transition back into their homes. For some, the wait to return to their homes may be longer than they expected.

Residents who are uninsured or whose insurance no longer covers their situation may be eligible for support through the Alberta government’s Wildfire Evacuee Transitional Accommodation Benefit. For more information, visit www.alberta.ca/documents/Wildfire-Evacuee-WETA-May-20.pdf.

Filing Insurance Claims

  • Document the damage.
  • Keep a running list of all damaged or destroyed items with estimated purchase dates and prices, as well as the cost to replace each item.
  • 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 receipts for your living expenses while you were out of your home.
  • Ask your insurance representative what further living expenses you may be entitled to recover and for what period of time.

In many cases, residents have already connected with their insurers at the evacuation centres. Once you contact your insurer, an adjuster will be assigned to you.

The insurance industry is working closely with local officials to quickly find temporary housing for the hundreds of insurance adjusters who are ready to arrive and start helping residents. Many claims have already been filed, and insurers are available by phone and email. Insurers are eager to quickly begin helping the people of Fort McMurray rebuild their homes and their community.

Cleaning Up Damaged Fridges and Freezers

One of the first cleanup issues people may face is dealing with damaged refrigerators and/or freezers. Because most Fort McMurray homes had electricity during the evacuation, with only brief power outages, not all fridges and freezers will be damaged. As such, many may not have to discard their fridges or freezers. In fact, to save landfill space and everyone’s valuable time during recovery, it makes sense to keep fridges and freezers that are safe to use.

Here’s what you need to know about damaged fridges and freezers and your insurance coverage:

  • Your damaged refrigerator, freezer and their contents are covered for fire and related damage.
  • Your freezer and its contents are also covered for loss or damage caused by an accidental power interruption. Typically, in this situation, your freezer and its contents are insured for a specified amount. Check your policy for that limit.
  • Before disposing of food from your freezer, make a list or take photos for insurance purposes.
  • If you suspect your fridge or freezer is contaminated by food spoilage or other damage, speak to your insurance representative before discarding the appliance.
  • If your insurer agrees that the refrigerator or freezer must be replaced, the cost of disposing of the appliance is covered under the Debris Removal portion of your policy.
  • Your discarded refrigerator and freezer will be “de-gassed” and safely disposed of.
  • Coverage for other perishables in your home will depend on whether you are making a claim for damage related to the fire. If you are making a claim, other perishables will be covered under the part of your policy that covers your home’s contents.

Getting Answers to Your Questions

“While the fire is now under control, it’s important to keep safety as a first priority. Do not enter your home until it is safe to do so,” added Adams. “You can contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre by phone at 1-844-2ask-IBC or by email at FortMacFire@ibc.ca with any questions or if you are having trouble getting in touch with your insurance representative. We are on the ground, in the community. We have set up our Community Assistance Mobile Pavilion to answer consumer questions in town.”

Fort McMurray area residents can also get information at ibc.ca and by following @insurancebureau on Twitter.

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.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $8.2 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion.

For more information, visit IBC online at www.ibc.ca. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

SOURCE: Insurance Bureau of Canada