Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wildfires and homeowners insurance: Five things you need to know



As wildfire season approaches, here are five important things to know about fire danger and your homeowners insurance:

1) Homeowners insurance generally covers all fires, including wildfires, unless the policyholder intentionally set the fire. Outbuildings and unattached structures are also generally covered.

2) If possible, review your policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Things like fine art and jewelry may have limited coverage under a standard policy. But you can buy special coverage that gives you more protection. Here's information to help determine how much

3) Prepare a household inventory, which will help a lot if you have to file a claim. You can do it with these easy-to-use paper forms, or you can try free iPhone/iPad or Android apps that do the same thing.

4) You can help protect a rural home and limit the danger by clearing a natural firebreak between your home and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has much more information on how to protect yourself and your home, before, during and even after a wildfire.

5) Have an emergency kit and a family communication plan. Know where your valuable papers (including insurance policy and contact info), mementos and anything you can't live without are, so that you can evacuate with them if needed. Here's a list of recommended emergency supplies. And if you're advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Don't be the person in the photo above.

Heads up: New travel insurance license rules in WA

New rules are taking effect July 1 for travel insurance licensing in Washington state. Here's a summary, albeit one that's pretty heavy on insurance-ese:

  • Under the new rules, any individual or business entity that will sell, solicit, or negotiate travel insurance must have the travel line of authority specifically listed on their Washington state insurance producer license.
  • There is one exception to this new requirement. If a licensed business entity (agency) wants to transact travel insurance business, it must a) have a producer license with the travel line of authority and b) have a designated responsible licensed person for the agency who has a producer license with the travel line of authority.
Got questions? We've prepared an FAQ page on this topic, and if that doesn't help, you'll find contact info (email and phone) at the bottom of the FAQ page.