Lindeen: Keep a list of your possessions
HELENA – As Montana kicks off Wildfire Awareness Month this May, Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen is encouraging Montanans who live in fire-prone areas to keep an inventory of their belongings – and know how to retrieve it should they experience fire damage.
“I applaud Montanans who are managing their property to reduce the likelihood of fire this summer,” Lindeen said. “But understanding your insurance is also part of living with the danger of fire. Insurance is how most Montanans recover when fireproofing fails.”
Lindeen’s advice comes in the midst of Wildfire Awareness Month, an effort of state government and private groups aimed at ensuring Montanans know how respond to wildfire. Wildfire Awareness Month is the entire month of May.
Keeping an inventory of possessions can make the process of filing an insurance claim to replace them faster and easier. Lindeen’s office has a free checklist Montanans may download to write down their possessions. There is also a free cell phone app available at the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s InsureU online website where residents can take photos of their home and its contents.
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 1-800-332-6148.