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Natural disasters have the potential to devastate entire communities. They displace many families from their homes, sometimes for an extended period, and they can cost communities billions of dollars in repairs. From floods to wildfires to earthquakes to windstorms, natural disasters are a horrible experience.
Many natural disasters are included under the common insured perils in typical home insurance policies, though not all. That’s good news for the families affected, as insurance can help them rebuild their homes, replace what they lost, and get back to normal. With the increasing incidence of wildfires and mass flooding across the world, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have adequate home insurance, including flood protection.
If you have to make a claim, or you’re re-evaluating your policy to make sure you’re fully covered, it helps to know the four main coverage areas you’re likely to need in the event of a natural disaster. You can also visit Viranilaw.ca/areas-of-practice/natural-disasters/ for more detailed information about all of these types of coverage.
1. Mass Evacuation Insurance
In the event of a wildfire, a mass evacuation order may force an entire community to leave their homesand head somewhere safe. This can happen very quickly, as wildfires spread rapidly, and officials don’t always have time to issue an early or pre-emptory evacuation order. Given the extreme costs and mass-panic these orders can cause, they are generally only used when the threat becomes imminent.
Mass evacuation insurance covers the costs associated with being away from your home during that mass evacuation order. Even if your property winds up unscathed, you might still have a claim, though making any claim should involve an evaluation of factors such as:
- How long you had to stay away from your home;
- The total cost of staying away from your home;
- The deductible you have to pay before coverage would come into play (if your deductible is less or about equal to your costs a claim would have no value).
Costs include things like hotel accommodations, transportation, and food costs above your usual budget.
2. Additional Living Expenses
When the mass evacuation order lifts, if it turns out you cannot return to your property because of damage or loss, those same costs covered by mass evacuation insurance now shift to Additional Living Expenses.
ALE coverage lasts as long as your home is being repaired – although it is subject to coverage limits, so be mindful of that when you’re budgeting and selecting your long-term living arrangements.
This covers the costs of repairing your home and, often, other structures on your property like a detached garage or shed. There are many issues that can arise when you’re dealing with the insurer on structural repairs, such as:
- Delays from the loss adjuster;
- Disagreements over the repairs;
- Insufficient by law coverage, which covers additional repairs required by updated bylaws and building codes.
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4. Personal Contents
If you have lost your home in a wildfire, you will have also lost many beloved and valuable personal belongings. Replacing them can be expensive, but your personal contents insurance will help. How much it helps will depend on your policy, and you may encounter some issues along the way. For example, under policies that offer Replacement Cost (the cost to actually replace the items), you may need to make the purchase first and receive reimbursement later.
Knowing what your home insurance covers can be a huge relief if you’re affected by a natural disaster. Review your policy if you’re concerned about the possibility of wildfires or flooding affecting your home.