Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fires continue to devastate Eastern Washington

More than 780,000 acres have burned in 11 counties and tribal lands in Eastern Washington. President Obama has signed an Emergency Declaration that authorizes FEMA to assist with equipment and resources.

The fires have claimed an estimated 80 homes and displaced families and affected agriculture, businesses and countless communities. The weather forecast calls for rain over the weekend, but there's also a possibility of lightning in some areas. Several of the fires were started by lightning.
A photo from a wildfire in Wenatchee in July 2015 (OIC photo)

The Insurance Commissioner’s website has information for consumers about wildfires and homeowner’s insurance, including things you should talk to your insurance agent about and tips for protecting your home and belongings. We also have tips for filing a claim after a natural disaster and how to find disaster resources.

Here are resources from other agencies:
  • Follow news about the fires on Twitter at #WaWILDFIRE.
  • The Washington Department of Natural Resources has the most recent fire information available on its website and through its @waDNR_fire Twitter feed
  • Governor Inslee has declared a state of emergency and instituted a statewide burn ban in June. You can view the Governor’s Wildfire Resource Page at
Some experts are predicting wildfires will continue into September. Here are some tips for preparing for wildfire risk:
  • Check your policy to make sure damage from wildfires is covered. Some policies include coverage for emergency shelter, such as a hotel, if a home is uninhabitable. 
  • Review your policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Things like fine art, jewelry and computer equipment may have limited coverage under a standard policy. But you can buy special coverage that gives you more protection for those types of items, called a rider. Contact your insurance agent or broker to ask about supplemental policies. 
  • Catalog your home’s belongings in case you need to make an insurance claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a printable home inventory checklist or you can try free iPhone/iPad or Android apps. 
  • You can help protect a rural home and limit the danger by clearing a natural fire break between your home and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has information on how to protect yourself and your home before, during and even after a wildfire. 
  • Have an emergency kit and a family communication plan. Know the location of your valuable papers, including insurance policy and contact information, mementos and anything you can't live without, so you can evacuate with them, if needed. 
  • Here's a list of recommended emergency supplies to keep on hand in the case of an evacuation. 
  • Don’t forget about planning for your pets. has tips for pet owners
Consumers can seek help with their insurance or ask insurance-related questions by calling our consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900 or contacting us online.