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Emergency Evacuation Insurance or Mass Evacuation Assist

Several wildfires happen in Canada each year. As these disasters worsen, more families will need to contemplate purchasing Mass Evacuation insurance, if they don't have it yet.

Mass Evacuation Insurance is a part of the home insurance policy and is designed to cover the financial difficulties during a mass evacuation. Emergency evacuation may be ordered by the government during tornadoes, wildfires, or floods. 

What Does Mass Evacuation Insurance Cover?

Mass Evacuation insurance covers unexpected expenses following an accident or catastrophes after severe weather conditions that would need immediate evacuation of the whole town. It only covers expenditures above your normal expenses.

The following are some of the things that would most likely be covered by your insurance when a mass evacuation occurs:

  • Temporary accommodation after evacuating
  • Food just beyond your usual expenses
  • Moving/Transferring expenses after the emergency evacuation 
  • Travel costs above your usual expenditure
  • Storage fees (i.e., for belongings retrieved from your home after re-entry)

When an order for evacuation affects your home and household, mass evacuation insurance will compensate for your hotel stay until the order is lifted. After being lifted, Mass Evacuation Coverage will end. If, after the order is lifted, you have learned that your house has been severely damaged and no longer habitable, you must reach your insurance company and report it. During this time, additional living expense coverage can greatly help you. Emergency evacuation due to these disasters may take a serious toll on you, but you may request for this additional living expense coverage for reimbursements. It will continue to compensate you for expenses in your temporary shelter or until your house is already repaired and is now in its habitable condition.

If your home was not damaged or just damaged slightly, your insurance will not grant any continued reimbursements. If you intend to abandon your home even if it is still habitable, the expenses you will be spending will come from your own pocket.

What to Do After a Mass Evacuation

You may re-enter your home after several weeks after the emergency evacuation and see how the disaster has brought damage to your home. But, it would do well if you take precautionary measures when trying to return there.

Air Quality After a Wildfire

Air quality has been a major concern even if the mass evacuation order has already been lifted. Air quality closer to the wildfire might be worse and proves to be dangerous even after the fire has been completely put out. Several health risks could affect you and your family, especially children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with prior health issues such as chronic lung and heart disease. If you or any of your family member is suffering from a medical condition such as asthma, that could worsen due to poor air quality. In that case, your insurance may continue to pay for your additional living expenses outside your home. You may continue to be reimbursed after the emergency evacuation and that going back there is not yet feasible.

Re-Entering Your Home

Returning home after the disaster can be worrisome. You may want to review these tips when you find yourself in the situation of returning home.

  • Be conscious of your surroundings. Follow road signals and placards that state damage assessment
  • If it is just safe to do, retrieve your valuables and record their retrieval as proof for your insurance claim.
  • If you find re-entering your home for a longer time still safe, take supplies such as drinking water, flashlight, garbage bags, gloves, first-aid kit, etc.
  • Before entering totally, walk around the structure of your house and look into some damages yourself. Check electrical wirings, be on the lookout for debris that could fall, and smell for possible gas leaks. You may find this a good time to take photos of the whole area including the damages.
  • Use caution. Check the electrical breaker and make sure it is turned off. After the emergency evacuation, you may have worries and apprehensions about the safety of your own home.
  • Avoid using generators due to possible electrical damage.
  • Check for sewage damage and water connections. 

For the time being, refrain from drinking tap water and discard spoiled food in your kitchen or any food that has been in your freezer without power. Spoiled food is covered by your Personal Contents Insurance. You may include its cost in your insurance claim.

Tips for Your Insurance Claim

These are the tips that you may find helpful. Following these tips as you go back to your home can help smooth out the latter steps of your insurance claim:

#1 Document Your Home

You would want to return to your home after the emergency evacuation. Upon inspecting the interior and exterior of your home, you may take photos and videos to serve as additional files to be sent to your insurance company. You may also write down some specifications or details of the damage to help describe what was taken in the photos.

#2 Communicate with Your Insurer

If you have not opened a claim yet, put in writing that you intend to do so as soon as possible to the insurance provider. Whatever happens after the mas evacuation order, you will do well if you reach your insurer quickly for them to know about the damage that the disaster has left to your home and the expenses you would want to claim after the emergency evacuation.

#3 Determine Your Home’s Livability

Some conditions make your home not suitable for occupancy, such as smoke, electrical and structural damage. Your home may not be physically damaged by smoke, but it may be unhabitable. There are serious risks associated with inhaling fine particles caused by smoke.

#4 Review Your Insurance Policy

Review and understand the Declaration Pages of your insurance policy. You will need this in times of an emergency evacuation. It serves as a summary of your coverages. Also, review the full policy language if you have one because it will show you some information about key terms and limitations that you would want to know. It might be helpful to contact your insurer for an updated policy, as there might have been constant changes with inflation.

#5 Formulate a Schedule of Loss

Begin formulating a Schedule of Loss if your home or personal properties have been damaged by fire or smoke. This is a list of personal property items that have been damaged to be used by the insurance adjuster.

To understand your insurance policy even better, you may check and refer to your Declaration Pages and Long Form Insurance. Information in this article is for emergency evacuation during a fire/wildfire. We can talk more about other kinds of disasters on the next articles.

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