Forest Fire Coverage

Most home and business insurance policies cover fire damage – regardless of whether it is a forest fire or a deliberate wildfire. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, homeowner’s and tenant’s insurance policies may provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time.

What is a Wildfire?

A wildfire is simply an uncontrolled fire that is damaging or burning large fields and areas of land. It is typically a fire that started from a lightning strike, from people’s carelessness or even arson. These fires sometimes burn for days or even weeks and can destroy entire forests or neighborhoods due to how quickly they can spread. Wildfires pose the largest threat in summer months to homeowners who live near grasslands or heavily forested areas.

Protect Yourself

  • Create an emergency plan with your family to ensure that all family members know what to do in the event of a wildfire. Your plan should include all possible exit routes from each room of your home as well as a safe place to meet if you are not at home or need to evacuate.
  • Assemble a 72-hour emergency supply kit before the disaster strikes. Items to include are water, non-perishable food items, a battery powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, identification, cash and any special needs such as medications.
  • Prepare your home. There are practical ways to reduce fire damage to your home.
    • Check that your home’s roof, exterior walls, balconies, decks and crawlspaces are treated with flame resistant materials.
    • Ensure eaves are closed in and vents are screened.
    • Remove combustible materials such as trees, shrubs and woodpiles within 10 meters of your home.
    • Keep trees and shrubs 10-30 meters from your home pruned and trimmed to prevent a fire from spreading.
    • Keep your lawn watered and maintained.
    • Ensure that the areas beneath decks and porches are clear of debris and flammable agents.
    • How Insurance Can Help

Most home insurance policies will cover your home in the event of fire damage as well as the subsequent water damage incurred trying to put out the fire.

In certain circumstances, homeowners unable to live in their home due to the damage may be entitled to additional living expenses if they are evacuated due to a civil authority evacuation notice or if the house is unlivable due to the damage.

Tips for Starting a Claim

  • Call your insurance broker. Many insurers and brokers have 24-hour claims services to take you information and start the claim process. Be sure to be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • Assess and document the fire and water damage to your property. Taking photos or video can be helpful for the insurance company.
  • Begin making a list of all the damaged or destroyed items. If you are able, begin assembling any proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties that you have for the damaged items. Take photos of the damaged items which show the damage incurred and keep the item unless it poses a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and securing your property. You should be taking steps to prevent further damage to your home which may include installing tarps over holes made to the structure or boarding up doors and windows.
  • You may also be entitled to living expenses if you are displaced. This can be either because your home has experienced fire damage or if you were told to evacuate the area by a civil authority. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for how long.

For more information on coverages speak with your local independent insurance broker. Your broker will discuss your insurance requirements and work with you to find an insurance company that best fits your needs. A list of brokerages can be found at ibam.mb.ca/find-a-broker.

There are many steps you can do to protect your property by ensuring you have a disaster resilient home. The Insurance Brokers Association of Canada along with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction has created a FireSmart Home Owner’s Manual. For more information on how to protect your home, visit http://www.ibac.ca/getattachment/43663b15-1498-47f4-996d-866030ef3ffe/Guide-to-Wildfire.aspx.

To learn how to prepare for emergencies in Manitoba, contact the Manitoba Emergencies Measures Organization.


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