We’re not experts on fire, but we do know insurance. We can help you prepare yourself before disaster strikes. And after the smoke clears. If you experience losses due to wildfire and are having a difficult time with your insurance company, call our office at (406) 444-2040.
Before the First Spark
Call us at (406) 444-2040
After the Disaster
If your property — auto, home or other insured building — is damaged by severe weather, wildfire or other disasters:
Ask your insurance agent what information is needed to file a claim. To help the claim process move smoothly, have your policy number ready, if possible.
Take photographs or video of the damage before things are cleaned up or repaired. Do not have repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property. If you can do so safely, make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property by covering broken windows or leaking roofs. Don’t take chances — if going back into the area could be dangerous, don’t do it.
Save all receipts, including those from the 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 homeowners 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 homeowners 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.
Document your losses.
Ideally, you have an inventory list and photos of your valuables available or 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.
Keep in mind that there are limitations and exclusions in your policy that may apply. Coverage for things like debris removal, jewelry or other structures on your property may be limited. That is why it is important to ready your insurance policy.
You have a contractual obligation to mitigate your damages so further damage doesn’t occur. It may take a few days or more for an adjuster to come inspect your home after a loss occurs. For example, if your roof was damaged and would allow rain to enter your home in its damages state, do a temporary fix to that part of the roof so further damage won’t happen until an adjuster comes out to look at your home.
You have a contractual obligation to provide your insurance company proof of the amount of your loss in the form of receipts or estimates. While this may be cumbersome, the company can require this. A handwritten note with an estimate of the expenses that does not come from a vendor, store or contractor will not be adequate. You must be able to provide evidence to support your claim for damages. For example, if you are claiming additional living expenses you must support this with hotel receipts.
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.