AIA's Tips for Wildfire Recovery

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As Oklahomans deal with the wildfires in the western part of the state, insurance claims handlers are standing by to help with the recovery process. The American Insurance Association (AIA) offers these tips for property owners who have been affected by the wildfires:

As Oklahomans deal with the wildfires in the western part of the state, insurance claims handlers are standing by to help with the recovery process. The American Insurance Association (AIA) offers these tips for property owners who have been affected by the wildfires:

1.    Use Caution when entering burned areas. Don’t reenter evacuated areas until fire officials say it is safe. Be aware of hazards that may still exist, such as fire hot spots that could flare up. Follow public health guidance on safe clean-up procedures, and wear heavy gloves and thick-soled shoes. Wet debris down to avoid breathing dust and ash particles.

2.    Contact your insurer immediately to report all losses and damages. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy, if possible. If you have an agent, contact them – they may report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. If you can't remember the name of your company and your agent is not reachable, call your mortgage company – it will have a record of your insurer. Stay in regular contact with your insurer to get the best and fastest results.

3.    Prepare a list of damaged property. If possible, photograph or video the damaged items and areas. When preparing a list for your adjuster, make two copies, one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Providing as much detail as you can may help speed things up–consider including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and perhaps even what it might cost today to replace it.

4.    Keep all recovery-related receipts, including those for meals and lodging – these may be covered under the “additional living expenses” portion of your insurance policy. Talk to your insurance company about temporary repairs. Most homeowners’ insurance policies will reimburse you for reasonable expenses related to immediate repairs needed to prevent further damage to the home. However, don’t make permanent repairs until your insurer has inspected the damage. Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a licensed and bonded contractor, and give the estimate to the adjuster.

5.    Return claim forms to your insurer as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanations.

Additional Resources:

Oklahoma Forestry Services
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner’s Office
National Interagency Fire Center

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