October 1, 2014
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler advises Washington residents who were affected by the summer wildfires to talk to their insurance agent or broker about what they may need to do to protect their property from water- or land-movement damage.
“Winter is coming and it’s a good idea for people who were affected by wildfires over the summer to check in with their insurance agents or brokers,” said Kreidler. “Even if your home wasn’t directly damaged by the wildfires, the landscape was altered and heavy rains or freezes may affect more people than the fires did.”
The wildfires in Central and Eastern Washington burned away much of the vegetation in some areas. As fall and winter set in, excessive rain may cause flooding, mudslides or landslides, or the earth may move for other reasons. Homeowner insurance may not pay for damage caused by earth movement.
“Your insurance agent knows your situation, so talk to them first,” Kreidler said.
Many insurance agents sell flood insurance, which is regulated by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance rates are based on where you live and do not differ from company to company. Consumers can read more about flood insurance, how it works and the risk of flooding after fire at www.floodsmart.gov.
This week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washingtonians affected by the wildfires may be eligible for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), even if they aren’t small business owners, for disaster-related losses including primary residences, personal property and equipment. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week denied Inslee’s appeal for a federal disaster declaration.
Kreidler’s website has more information about recovering from natural disasters and how to find your insurance agent or company. Consumers who have questions or complaints about their insurance companies can contact our consumer advocates online or by phone at 1-800-562-6900.