Too Hot, Too Dry?

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Lindeen: Insurance is part of wildfire preparedness, too

HELENA, Mont. – With record-setting heat driving much of Montana into an early fire season, Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen is urging Montanans to be careful with fireworks this weekend – and know the insurance basics of wildfire losses.

“Maintaining defensible space around homes and being careful with fire are important parts of summer wildfire safety,” Lindeen said. “But if prevention fails, Montanans need to know how to maximize their insurance to recover.”

Lindeen has assembled a list of wildfire related resources and tools on her website designed to walk Montanans through the process of getting the most they can out of their homeowners policy.

The first step to using insurance, Lindeen said, is to know what you have to lose. She recommends conducting a home inventory and storing it somewhere outside the home – preferably in an email you could access from anywhere.

Lindeen’s site includes a downloadable home inventory list and a link to a free smart phone app that allows Montanans to inventory their belongings right on their phones.

After disaster strikes, Lindeen recommends the following steps:

  • Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. Be patient, but persistent. After a natural disaster, insurance companies may be inundated with calls. Keep calling until you reach someone.
  • To help the claim process move quicker, have your insurance policy number ready, if possible.
  • Take photographs or video of the damage before clean up begins. Do not begin repairing your property until your insurance company has inspected your property.
  • If you are temporarily displaced, save all receipts. Not all of your temporary needs may be covered by insurance, but without receipts, none of it will be.
  • Save all receipts on temporary repairs made to your home, including plastic sheeting for windows. Such repairs – which prevent more damage to your insured property – are usually covered.