Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fire damage should be covered by homeowners? insurance

Insurance concerns surface in face of Castle Rock Fire


By TREVOR SCHUBERT
Express Staff Writer

As fire skirts around homes and structures in the northern Wood River Valley—concerns abound over insurance coverage and where the limits for most homeowners' insurance policies lie.

The following information is indicative of strong, reputable insurance carriers only, and while each policy is different and affected parties should contact their agents for exact details, there are some general hooks homeowners can hang their hats on.

First off, fire caused by lightning is generally covered by homeowners' insurance.

"It would be highly unlikely for it not to be covered," said Greg Bloomfield, president of Wood River Insurance in Hailey. "I can't speak for all policies, but homeowners' insurance policies I sell would cover it. For residents who face mandatory evacuation (this includes Board Ranch residents and residents living on Warm Springs Road west of the city limits) insurance should cover cost of living expenses as well," Bloomfield said.

Costs of hotels, condominiums and food while living away from home should be covered by basic homeowners' insurance policies, and without the policyholder being subject to a deduction cost.

"The important part is 'mandatory evacuation,'" Bloomfield said. "Residents in areas of voluntary evacuation (Hulen Meadows and Adams Gulch, for example) are not covered for cost-of-living expenses."

The Act of God loophole in insurance coverage refers to incidents such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the like. If someone lives in a flood plain, a place of reoccurring floods, most homeowners' insurance policies will not cover water damage because of the repetitive nature of the flooding. Additional flood insurance is required. Living in a rural area susceptible to wildfires does not fall under this clause.

"Smoke damage would also be covered by most homeowners' insurance policies," Bloomfield said. "This has to be real damage, not just a house smelling like smoke for a few hours. If ozanation or repainting is required, it should be covered."

Bloomfield noted that this claim is likely to be subject to a deductible.

"The important thing is if people have questions or concerns to contact their agent," Bloomfield said.




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