HELENA – With wildfire charring tens of thousands of acres of Montana, Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen urged those who have lost property to wildfire or are threatened by the fires to contact her office if they have any trouble with their insurance.
“If you have lost your home and are unsure where to go for help understanding your insurance policy, call my office at 1-800-332-6148,” she said.
Lindeen also encouraged Montanans to follow these guidelines:
If your property — auto, home or other insured building — is damaged by wildfires:
• Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible.
• Remember that others in your community will also be contacting their insurance companies. Be patient, but persistent.
• Ask your insurance agent what information is needed to file a claim. Have your policy number ready, if possible.
• Take photographs or video of the damage before things are cleaned up or repaired.
• Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property.
• Save all receipts, including those from temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
Plastic tarps or sheeting used to protect broken windows and damaged buildings
from additional exposure to elements are usually covered by your homeowner’s policy.
* If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, you may have coverage
for additional living expenses while repairs are being made. This is true for most
standard homeowner’s policies.
* If you cannot stay in your home, save all receipts, including hotel stays, reasonable
meals, and any necessities that you must buy. Not everything may be covered, but
without receipts, you may be out of luck.
* Ideally, you have an inventory list and photos of your valuables available, stored online in
a safe place. If not, you can use a home inventory checklist to help you remember any
property that was lost or damaged in each room in your house.
If you have not yet been evacuated:
* Keep an inventory list (with photos and video, if possible) of your belongings and store it
in a safe place, like a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box outside your home. Emailing it
to yourself ensures that you can retrieve it anywhere you have access to the internet. If
you have receipts and photos to document valuables, you will streamline the claim
process when needed.
*Building a home inventory is easy with this free checklist. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or
Android smart phone, you can also download the free home inventory application.
If your car is damaged by wildfire, take the following steps:
* Call your insurance agent or insurance company with your policy number and file your
claim as soon as possible. Ask your agent what you’ll need to file a claim.
* Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental vehicle if your car is not
drivable. Save any receipts and bills, including those from a car rental, towing, or storage
of your damaged car.
* If your car was damaged and you have comprehensive coverage with car rental, call
your insurance company right away. They can usually schedule a rental car for you
quickly, while yours is being repaired.