As wildfires continue to rage in California and Colorado recovers from one of its worst wildfire seasons on record, many homeowners wonder how to make sure their homes and belongings can be protected in the future.
Dealing with the aftermath of a wildfire is already overwhelming, dealing with insurance companies often makes things worse. With wildfires becoming more intense and more frequent across the country, residents in fire zones should begin thinking about more extensive preparation.
Preparing your property and paperwork
In an evacuation situation, it is easy to forget about future insurance claims you may need to file. But, with some preparation ahead of time you can make the process easier in the event of a wildfire.
Review your insurance policy: Different policies cover different expenses, and they all have limits.
Keep up-to-date photos of your home and belongings: This helps prove what you own and what condition everything was in before the fire. If you can, store these photos online in cloud storage to reduce the risk of losing them.
Put documents in one place: Have all your important materials, including insurance policies, in a bag or folder that you can easily take with you in an evacuation.
Property owners in fire zones should also consider flood insurance
This may seem to be counter-intuitive - why buy flood insurance, won't any rain help put out the fire and stop further damage? Not necessarily. Fire strips the land of vegetation that would normally absorb rain. Without it, rainfall can lead to flash floods and mudslides.
For this reason, residents in Colorado fire zones should also consider obtaining flood insurance in addition to fire coverage, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance. So, while a summer thunderstorm may help to put out a fire, it also is a ripe opportunity for insurance companies to deny your claim for damages. If they can say flooding caused the damage, you could have a difficult time getting compensation for the damage.
I followed everyone's advice my claim was denied - now what?
Fires cause a serious amount of damage and, unfortunately, insurance companies often try to deny legitimate claims. If you have followed these steps and still been denied by your insurance company, it may be time to involve an attorney who specializes in insurance litigation.