Dry conditions should motivate residents to prepare financially and physically for fire danger
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Residents impacted by Alaska’s Sockeye and Tanana Slough Fires should seek safety when asked to evacuate. Once evacuated to a safe location, residents should save receipts for expenses and contact their insurance companies through their toll free claims telephone numbers as soon as possible to begin receiving assistance if their home is damaged, said the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
“Step one in recovery and rebuilding is contacting your insurance company or agent through their toll free telephone number. This action will begin the recovery process if your home is damaged by the wildfire,” said Armand Feliciano, PCI spokesperson. “Residents under evacuation orders should remember to save their receipts for hotels and meals, as these expenses may be eligible for reimbursement.”
The National Interagency Fire Center reports continued drought and dry conditions have caused 24,597 fires nationally and burned 519,609 acres in 2015. The National Fire Preparedness Level is at 2 currently. Governor Bill Walker has declared a state disaster for the Sockeye Fire that has burned 7,500 acres so far.
“Residents not living in the fire areas should be reminded to prepare their property and their finances for wildfire,” said Feliciano. “Homeowners and renters need to look at their coverage every year. Homeowners should update their policy to reflect any remodeling or upgrades and review your policy with your agent or company. Everyone should compile a home inventory detailing personal possessions, make a family evacuation plan and clear 100 feet of defensible space around the home.”
Key insurance elements for evacuees to remember:
• Policyholders who have lost their homes to the fires are immediately eligible for Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage which may reimburse for increased living expenses such as, lodging, clothing, toiletries and other necessities. Policyholders who are evacuated for a period of time by state or local officials, and do NOT lose their home, may also be eligible for ALE reimbursement if the home next door is damaged by fire, and civil authorities prevent you from returning to your home. Remember to keep your receipts so it will make the claims process easier.
Wildfire Preparedness Tips:
• Review Your Policy Regularly – Review your property insurance policy with your insurance company or agent. If you have recently remodeled or built a new addition onto your property, be sure to increase the amount of protection to cover the changes to the property. If your home is paid off, be sure to maintain coverage.
• Keep an Inventory - To speed claims processing, keep an inventory of your possessions and photograph or videotape them for documentation purposes. After a fire, list the items that were destroyed or damaged along with a brief description that includes receipts, appraisals, and the age, current value, make, model and serial number of items.
• Create Defensive Space - For those living in high fire hazard areas, the best protection is defensive space. Clear the land around dwellings of all vegetation. Experts recommend that the cleared area extend at least 100 feet from the dwelling in all directions.
Insurance Company Toll-Free Claim Phone Numbers (http://bit.ly/PCITollFreeNumbers)
After the Fire Recovery Guide (http://bit.ly/AftertheFireGuide)