HELENA, Mont. – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen is urging Montanans who live in areas at risk of wildfire to keep an inventory of their belongings – and be able to retrieve it even if their home is damaged.
“When Montanans talk about wildfire preparedness, they are not typically talking about insurance,”Lindeen said. “But for Montanans who experience wildfire, insurance is the difference between mourning losses and creating a new life. It’s crucial for Montanans – especially those who live in the wildland-urban interface – to know what they have to lose to fire.”
Lindeen’s advice comes in the midst of Wildfire Awareness Week, an effort of state government and private groups aimed at ensuring Montanans know how respond to wildfire. Wildfire Awareness Week ends on June 8.
Lindeen’s office has a free checklist Montanans may download to write down their possessions. There is also a free app available where residents can take photos of their home and its contents. Both will make the process of accounting for potential fire losses faster and easier.
Montanans who keep paper inventories should store them in a fireproof safe. Lindeen recommends sending a digital inventory to your own e-mail address, where it can be retrieved from anywhere in the event of an evacuation.
After a fire, Lindeen advised Montanans take photos of damage before it has been cleaned up. If a resident is unable to return or stay in their home, they should save all receipts of hotel stays and other costs associated with evacuation. All such costs may not be covered, but without a receipt some companies may refuse to cover any costs.
Damage caused by wildfire is covered by most standard homeowner’s policies. Montanans who experience losses from wildfire – or any natural disaster – and have trouble with their insurance company should contact Lindeen’s office at 1-800-332-6128.