Salem – With the Mosier Creek wildfire burning in the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has a dedicated team of consumer advocates who can help answer people’s questions about their insurance coverage or the claims process.
The division, part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, also has several tips for homeowners and renters who have been affected by fire, smoke, or ash damage.
- Insurance companies may pay for additional living expenses (hotel, meals, and more) due to fire evacuation. Check with your insurance company to confirm your specific coverage. Keep all receipts, and call your insurance company or agent as soon as it is safe to do so to let them know you evacuated. Fire damage to a vehicle can be covered through an auto policy if you have elected comprehensive coverage.
- If you have damage to your personal belongings, your insurance company will request an inventory of the damaged/destroyed items. Be prepared to provide the adjuster with a list, including the item, the age, the approximate original cost, and the approximate replacement cost. Do not dispose of the damaged items until an adjuster can view them. Take photos of the damaged items yourself.
- If you file a fire-loss claim with your insurance company, your insurer may require a damage inspection before you start repairs. Take steps to prevent further damage or theft and check with your insurance company before beginning repairs.
- After the investigation is completed and the insurance company is ready to settle your claim, the adjuster will pay your claim in two steps. The first step will be to pay for repairs at an actual cash value basis. This means that the initial payment will be less than the full amount needed to do the job. Once the repairs are completed, the company will reimburse you the difference between the actual cash value and the full repair cost. You will have a deductible applied to the entire claim.
- Damage to a vehicle, even when parked in a garage, is not covered under a homeowners policy. The comprehensive coverage in your auto policy pays for the damages to a vehicle.
- Renters insurance covers your belongings and personal liability in much the same way that a homeowners policy does. Typically, the building owner’s policy covers the building you live in, but does not offer any protection for your property, your cost to find other housing, or your personal liability.
- If your home is damaged due to fire or smoke, and you cannot keep your pets with you, most policies will pay for your pets to be boarded while the repairs are under way.
For more resources, go to https://dfr.oregon.gov/insure/home/storm/Pages/wildfires.aspx.
About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov.
About Oregon DFR:
The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and http://dfr.oregon.gov/