Valley First

Review your home insurance policy carefully

Dust off your home insurance policy this spring to prepare for wildfire season

As the days get longer, most of us look forward to the clearer skies and the warmer temperatures of summer. But balmy summer days also bring the threat of wildfire, especially when rainfall drops off and the mercury soars.

As you tackle your spring cleaning and landscaping, it’s a good time to review your home insurance policy, including your fire protection. Regardless of whether or not you live in an area prone to wildfire, you should know exactly what, and for how much, you’re covered for.

Most home insurance policies with comprehensive coverage include a guaranteed replacement cost clause on your building and provide protection for losses related to forest fire, provided policy subjects are met.

The trouble is, many people don’t review their coverage levels or coverage types annually, and may need to change their coverage to prevent significant out-of-pocket expenses. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can change your coverage after an evacuation notice has been issued. You can’t add comprehensive coverage or make any changes to your policy until the notice is lifted. This could leave you exposed to unexpected losses related to wildfires. It’s better to act now and ensure you’re adequately covered rather than leave anything to chance.

Are you confident you’re covered for other fire scenarios?

Sixty per cent of British Columbians live in a region where some of the largest earthquakes occur. According to a 2014 poll commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, more than two-thirds of British Columbians polled don’t have earthquake insurance—or don’t know if they do. Only 31 per cent of those polled were confident they had earthquake insurance. And nearly half of those polled mistakenly believe the government will provide financial assistance for earthquake-related damages. The fact of the matter is, governments do not provide financial aid where earthquake insurance is available.

Earthquakes have the potential to damage gas and electrical lines, which may lead to fires resulting in structural damage. While a standard homeowner’s policy usually covers fire damage caused by an earthquake, some insurance companies have started charging very high deductibles for this coverage. What’s more, damage as a result of shaking is generally not covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. Coverage of this type is generally purchased as a separate endorsement on a policy. If your policy covers fire damage caused by an earthquake, don’t assume you are also covered for structural damage as a result of shaking.

Make sure to review your policy declarations page carefully so you understand what you are covered for. If you need help reviewing your policy, come drop by one of our insurance locations or give us a call.


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