2017 was a record breaking year for fires in BC, with over 1.2 million hectares of land burned and 65,000 people forced to evacuate. As the weather heats up, residents of BC should brace for another active wildfire season, according to recent forecasts of hot, dry conditions.
At this time, it is important to review your home insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage. Regrettably, some homeowners were needlessly stressed as they erroneously assumed wildfire is deemed an “ Act of God “ and excluded!
Although home insurance policies do cover wildfire, you should check that the limits are adequate for the potentially devastating losses that can occur.
Home insurance covers the costs of replacing, repairing or rebuilding your property. This would include any damage from smoke or water as a result of the fire (subject to the terms and conditions of the policy). It is important to note that not all policies will cover damage caused by fire retardant if the home is not otherwise damaged by fire or smoke.
A key aspect of your home insurance to check is whether you would be reimbursed for losses based on replacement cost or actual cash value. It is highly recommended you insure your home to full replacement cost. Most policies contain a clause called Guaranteed Replacement Cost which covers the cost to repair or rebuild on the same site with like materials even if the cost exceeds policy limits on the building. We suggest you consult your Insurance Advisor.
Another important type of coverage under your home insurance policy is additional living expenses (ALE). These are costs you incur for temporarily relocating if you are forced to leave on an evacuation order or if the home is damaged to the extent of being uninhabitable. Ensure that your insurance provides sufficient limits on ALE because the time to repair or rebuild can be much longer than you anticipate based on the size of the disaster, permits or availability of contractors and trades.
Many home insurance policies also limit coverage for fine art, collectibles, jewellery and other valuables so you may consider increasing limits or having separate insurance for such items.
Talk to your CapriCMW Insurance Advisor to determine if your existing coverage is sufficient or if you require additional insurance.
Be sure to contact your Advisor if you undergo any renovations to ensure your home is covered while undergoing construction and that your new home value is reflected in your insurance.
For more up-to-date information on current fire activity and danger levels in BC, visit the BC Wildfire Service website and see the FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual for tips on protecting your home from wildfire.