The following is a news release from the office of the Washington State Insurance Commissioner:
Here are some tips for homeowners and others who’ve lost property to the wildfire near Cle Elum, Wash. this week:
- Fire victims who have insurance should contact their insurer or agent as soon as possible to start the claims process. Many homeowners’ policies include some coverage for emergency shelter, such as a motel, if a home is uninhabitable.
- Cooperate fully with the insurer. Ask what documents, forms and data you’ll need to file a claim.
- Keep a log of all conversations involving your claim, including who you talked to, what was said, and when you spoke.
- Ask your insurer about additional living expenses if your home is destroyed. Save all relevant receipts.
- If the area is accessible, take photos or video of the damage.
- If you don’t have a home inventory, try to put together a list of what was in the home, especially valuables. It may help to mentally walk through the rooms of the home, visualizing the contents of each. Credit card records maintained by your card issuer can help you prove past purchases and value of lost big-ticket items.
- If there’s a disagreement about the claim, ask your insurer to cite specific language in your policy. If the claim offer seems too low, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement.
“Our hearts go out to the many victims of this fire, and we’re monitoring the situation closely,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Affected property owners who are having trouble getting their claims paid can call our office at 1-800-562-6900 or e-mail AskMike@oic.wa.gov. We’ll do our best to help.”
- Additional claim-filing tips are available at www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/home/disaster-preparedness.shtml.
- Wildfire tips and a printable home inventory form are at: www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/home/wildfires.shtml.