As thousands of Oregon homeowners and renters pick up the pieces after losing their home to wildfires this month, people with standard insurance policies should be covered for their losses.
That isn't always the case following a natural disaster. Earthquakes or floods, for example, aren't covered by typical policies and require add-on coverage, which can be costly.
But wildfires are included under standard homeowners or renters policies, said Brad Hilliard with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.
“In Oregon, there’s no difference in the type of fire," he said. "Wildfire damage is covered just like a kitchen or an electrical fire would be covered under your policy.”
Hilliard said people who’ve experienced a loss should document the damage and open a claim as soon as possible. But he warned against accepting a quick payout offer from an insurance company.
While it might be tempting, homeowners should be careful not to sign away their right to a full settlement later on, he said.
“The repair process takes time," said Hilliard. "It takes time to work through what all has been lost and damaged. So, be patient and work with your insurance company on that right now.”
Hilliard said the first thing to do is to take photos to document the damage. He said people should save receipts from lodging or other expenses they incurred while they were evacuated.
The agency has information about how to file insurance claims on its website.
For people without insurance, FEMA is accepting disaster assistance applications from people in eight Oregon counties.