Gephardt: What Homeowners Insurance Covers In A Wildfire
SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – If last weekend’s wildfires proved anything, it is how quickly a spark can turn a community’s world upside down. After any disaster, the big questions on many people’s minds are who pays to rebuild, and what exactly is covered by insurance?
The good news: Broadly speaking, insurance covers wildfires.
“Fire and smoke are standard insurance coverages across all insurance fire policies,” said Todd Kiser, commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department.
The bad news: It is not always that simple. Homes, as well as outbuildings such as garages or tool sheds, are usually covered, as are trees and other landscaping. It is the stuff inside where coverage can get sticky.
AMAZING, pure and simple. This is aerial footage from #Chopper5 of the aftermath of the #KnollsFire in Saratoga Springs….
“Not everybody has lots of jewelry, or lots of guns, or lots of artwork, or lots of antiques,” Kiser explained about valuables. “So there are limitations on these policies.”
Kiser said this is a good reminder to talk to your insurance agent at least once a year to make sure he or she knows what you have inside your home and if it would be covered.
Items outside your home, such as a trampoline or the fence around your yard, may also have coverage.
“You could always have limitations, but most policies are going to extend coverage to personal property,” said Kiser. “A trampoline is going to be your property. If you just have a standard vinyl fence in a subdivision, that fencing is covered.”
When homes burn, one of the hardest things to replace is the stuff inside. It’s crucial to document what you have in your home.
A notebook with a list of items, receipts, and serial numbers is ideal, but at the very least, walk around your home with your smartphone and make a video so you can show what was in your drawers and hanging on your walls.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends avoiding throwing away anything immediately.
Keep damaged items until a representative from your insurance carrier has had the chance to assess its damage and make a claim report.