We have all been riveted and deeply saddened by news reports of the Fort McMurray wildfires that continue to burn, causing billions in damages to the homes, businesses and government property in Fort McMurray and surrounding regions.
While we are all doing everything we can to help those affected, there are steps that you can take as a homeowner to ensure that you are adequately covered for a similar situation. How you can mitigate the risk to your home and property are included below, along with how to get ready with fire disaster preparedness.
Fire Disaster Awareness
The increasing prevalence of wide scale wildfires in places like Fort McMurray and Slave Lake has increased all of our awareness of these types of disasters.
The President and CEO if the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Don Forgeron recently spoke about these issues. During his speech, Forgeron stated that “the devastating wildfires, which continue to burn in Northern Alberta, are the most recent and alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity, in Canada. Storms, causing flooding and wildfires in recent years, have turned extreme and at times, tragic.”
When discussing solutions, he urged all governments to take “a thoughtful, sustainable approach that puts Canadians at the centre of the solution cannot wait. Severe weather is a fact beyond our immediate control. Floods and fires are going to continue to be a growing problem.”
As natural disasters like wildfires are increasingly common, we all need to be aware of the risks and work together to reduce those risks and prepare our communities to respond.
Mitigate the Risks to Your Home and Property
A key way to reduce the risk of wildfire damage to your home or business is to build outside of high-risk areas. Clearing any brush or vegetation close to buildings can also reduce risk of a neighbouring fire spreading. Similarly, experts recommend leaving at least fifteen (15) feet of clear space in between buildings, particularly where they are built with flammable materials such as wood or vinyl siding.
Using a security system and having proximity to a fire station help to ensure a timely response and reduce the risk of extensive damage from fire, even though they don’t reduce the risk of a fire. When building or purchasing a home or business you may want to consider the proximity of the closest fire station or consider installing a home security system. You will also want to ensure that your insurance is a comprehensive homeowners insurance package to protect yourself in the event that your home is damaged or completely destroyed by a fire.
A fire evacuation plan is also recommended, including a nearby designated emergency meeting location outside the fire or hazard area and a further location as a backup plan. Identify different escape routes in your home to get out and from your home and community to the potential meeting location.
Fire Safety Tips in Alberta
It is not just governments that can take steps to reduce fire risks. There are many things that you and your family or your employees can do to decrease the risks to your home or business.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking and keep an eye on any open flame, hot stove or grill
- Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from any source of heat
- Create and practice a fire escape plan
- Rake dead leaves, branches and pine needles off of your property and roof
- Plug large appliances directly into wall outlets (without using extension cords)
- Keep matches and lighters locked away safely from children; and
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms, check batteries annually and replace alarms at least once every 10 years
Preventing a fire and planning a proper response will help save lives and protect your home or business. This is an important part of reducing your risk of sustaining fire damage.
Ensuring Adequate Coverage
The first step in ensuring adequate coverage is to review your current policy with an experienced insurance broker to determine what exactly is covered and where you could use additional support.
When reviewing your policy, find the total coverage limit then divide by the square footage of your home and if it is less than $200, you may want to consider increasing your coverage. While this may offer some guidance, you should always consult an experienced insurance broker for more complete analysis.
When reviewing your policy, you will also want to ensure that there is adequate coverage for the contents of your home including specialty items such as antique furniture, fine arts, and jewellery by adding a personal articles floater to your policy. While some of these items may be salvageable in a fire, some may still sustain damage from smoke or water from fighting the fire and will need to be replaced.
The process of rebuilding your home post-fire will involve additional living expenses potentially for a short-term rental and other expenses while your home is being rebuilt. While standard policies should provide coverage for this, you should ensure that the coverage is adequate. Many of us would hope to stay with family or friends, but as wildfires may affect an entire region and lead to mandatory evacuations that might not be an option.
Contact Us for Homeowners Insurance in Edmonton, Alberta
Contact a trusted insurance broker at MBS for more information on what you can do to protect your home, business or property from a fire disaster. We can obtain very reasonable rates for homeowners insurance in Edmonton for you. Contact us for your insurance needs by calling 780-436-7880 today.