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Insurance information available for those affected by wildfires

By Tara Clow May 30, 2023 | 10:15 AM

If you are one of the thousands in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick affected by wildfires, you probably have questions about insurance.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is ready to act as a second responder and can get you the answers.

IBC has deployed its Community Assistance Mobile Pavilion (CAMP) to provide insurance information as active wildfires are burning in Tantallon and Barrington Lake, Nova Scotia, and Stein Lake near Saint Andrews, New Brunswick.

“While firefighting efforts continue, the ongoing wildfires in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have resulted in the loss of multiple properties. Our hearts go out to the individuals and families whose lives have been disrupted and whose property has been damaged,” said Amanda Dean, Vice-President, of Atlantic, IBC. “We extend a heartfelt thank you to all the first responders who have been working tirelessly to protect lives and property in the affected regions.”

IBC CAMP staff are now available at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax (26 Thomas Raddall Dr.) to answer insurance-related questions for Nova Scotia consumers and business owners affected by fire damage.

If you’re unable to visit a pavilion, you can contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre by phone at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) or by email at AtlanticCIC@ibc.ca.

IBC staff can address questions regarding home, business or vehicle insurance policies, coverage and the claims process.

In the meantime, IBC has provided a few answers and tips:

When the Smoke Clears, What’s Covered?

  • Virtually every home insurance policy covers damage caused by fire, even if the fire began on a neighbouring property, as long as the fire was not started intentionally by the policyholder or a member of their household.
  • Damage to vehicles from fire is usually covered if comprehensive or all perils car insurance coverage was purchased. As this coverage is not mandatory, talk to your insurance representative to ensure that you have appropriate insurance coverage.
  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who are evacuated or unable to return home as a result of insurable damage are entitled to additional living expenses (ALE).

What Is ALE and What Does it Cover?

  • Most homeowner’s, condominium unit owner’s and tenant’s insurance policies cover the cost of alternative accommodations and living expenses for people who are prohibited from returning home due to a mandatory evacuation order or because their home is unlivable as a result of insured damage, in this case, fire or related damage.
  • ALE covers additional living costs over and above your normal expenses. For example, if your temporary accommodations didn’t have laundry facilities and you have to use a laundromat, those laundromat expenses should be covered.
  • ALE does not cover all of your living expenses while you are displaced; it covers your increased cost of living as a result of being displaced. ALE starts from the date of evacuation. There could be a limit to this coverage, so check with your insurance provider for details.
  • For additional information, please see IBC’s Additional Living Expenses brochure.

Tips for Starting the Claims Process

  • Call your insurance representative. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what coverage for expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.

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