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Wildfires

Wildfire insurance resources

Wildfire insurance virtual town halls

The November town hall was held on Thursday, Nov. 12. Watch the video to hear answers to questions about the claims process, the rebuilding process, why it is important to consider flood insurance after a wildfire, and insurance scams.

Watch the October town hall to hear answers to questions about filing a claim, additional living expenses, and debris clean-up.

Wildfire and insurance

If you are affected by the Oregon wildfires, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to discuss your current situation and learn about next steps. If you still have questions or concerns, the division’s consumer advocates are here to help. Call 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or visit dfr.oregon.gov/help to connect with the Advocacy Team.

Recovering from wildfire takes time, but the information below will help you save time, money, and stress at each stage of the recovery process.

Claims process

Many homeowners and renters insurance policies help pay for extra expenses if you are unable to live in your home. This payment is called additional living expenses, or ALE. Every company handles these expenses differently. Check with your company for specifics.

ALE fact sheet


If you receive an advance payment from your insurance company, be sure to understand what it covers.

Advance payments usually cover additional living expenses or a portion of the personal property settlement.

Regardless of what it covers, the payment is not a grant. Your final payment will be reduced by the amount of the advance. It is OK to accept an advance payment. It will help cover some early expenses, just be sure to understand what it covers.


​​ Wildfire debris cleanup can be very expensive. On Oct. 23, 2020, the Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board approved funding to begin ash and debris removal. Homeowners and businesses may want to consider this option to reserve insurance benefits for rebuilding. Visit wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup to learn more about the state coordinated effort​.

Before you do any cleanup, or hire anyone to clean up wildfire debris, review the guidance from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality .

If you have questions, you can call the wildfire debris cleanup hotline at 503-934-1700 or email odot.wildfire@odot.state.or.us.

Remember to work closely with your county officials and insurance company in this cleanup process.

Every policy has deductibles. This is the amount you pay to help cover the claim. Everyone’s case is unique, so contact your insurance company for the details of your specific policy coverage. Be sure to understand how your deductible applies to your claim.


  • ​If you file a claim with your insurance company, your insurer may require a damage inspection before you start repairs. Try to prevent further damage or theft by making temporary repairs, save receipts for temporary work, and check with your insurance company before beginning repairs.
  • Do not get rid of anything that is damaged until your insurance company has seen it and said you can toss it out.
  • One of the most daunting tasks of the claim process can be filling out an inventory of your damaged personal items. Your insurance company needs this to document the personal property that is damaged or destroyed. Take your time; you do not need to give every item to your adjuster at once. Just make sure to ask how long you have to submit your list.
    • Prepare a list that includes the item, the age, the approximate original cost, and the approximate replacement cost.
    • Do not dispose of the damaged items until your adjuster can view them. Take photos of the damaged items yourself.

  • ​After the investigation is completed and the insurance company is ready to settle your claim, it will typically be paid in two steps:
    • Step 1 – Actual cash value. This means the initial payment will be for the value of the damaged property at the time of loss. This is established by depreciating the cost of the repairs and the replacement cost of the damaged personal property. The initial payment will be less than the full amount needed to do the job, but it will help you get repairs started, or begin purchasing replacement property.
    • Step 2 – Replacement cost. Once the repairs are completed, or a new item is purchased, the company will reimburse you the difference between the actual cash value and the full repair or replacement cost. You will have a deductible that applies to the entire loss.
    • Be sure to talk to your insurance company about your specific policy and how payments will be made.
​​

Other types of insurance policies

Damage to most vehicles is not covered under a homeowners policy. Comprehensive coverage on your auto policy will pay for damage (minus any deductible) caused by fire, smoke, or ash.

If your insurance company needs your car title and you no longer have access to it, your insurance company should work with Driver and Motor Vehicles (DMV) or your auto lender to get proof of ownership. You may need to sign a DMV power-of-attorney form to release your car title to your insurance company.


Oregonians in and around wildfire affected areas face an increased risk of flooding and mudflows for several years. Most insurance policies do not cover flood damage. It takes 30-days for a new National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance policy to go into effect, so consider buying flood insurance now.

For more info visit Floodsmart.gov and talk to your insurance agent.

For more information about this increased risk, visit Oregon wildfires: Flood risk and fraud awareness


Many manufactured home insurance policies are based on the actual cash value of the home. The settlement for a total loss of a manufactured home will typically be either the limits of the policy or the current sales price of a similar manufactured home (same year, make, and model). The policy may also have contents coverage for personal belongings and some additional living expenses.  

To find a title to a manufactured home, visit the Oregon Building Codes Division website .


  • ​​If you have a renters policy, it will typically cover your personal belongings and personal liability, similar to the way a homeowners policy does. You will need to make a list of damaged items with the age, original cost, and the cost to replace it. Give the list to your insurance adjuster. Typically, the building owner’s policy covers the building you live in, but does not cover your property, your cost to find other housing, or your personal liability.
  • The tips in the sections above will help you with reporting and filing your renters claim.
  • Many homeowners and renters insurance policies help pay for extra expenses if you are unable to live in your home. This payment is called additional living expenses, or ALE. Every company handles these expenses differently. Check with your company for specifics.

    ALE fact sheet
​​

Insurance claim tips

Do not be a victim of scammers. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board licenses construction contractors. Before hiring a contractor, check the license and review the board’s  Buyer Beware  list.

You can also check the license  of the person or company you are working with on new investments, buying insurance, or applying for a payday loan.

Press the avoid scams button below for more information.


You should not be rushed or pressured during your insurance claim process. You have a right to see the full settlement evaluation, look at the bid, get comparable value information, and take your time.

If you are feeling pressure from your insurance company to settle, you have a right to file a complaint online at dfr.oregon.gov. To talk to a consumer advocate, call 888-877-4894 (toll-free).


​Do all that you can to help the process. Take time to do your inventory. Details will come back to you at any time, so carry a note pad and a pen to jot down the items as you remember them. Ask friends, family, and neighbors to help you remember details. As you walk through stores or drive through a commercial area, you may be reminded of items like kitchen utensils or hand tools. Keep building your inventory list with more details.


Your mortgage still has to be paid. Inform your mortgage servicer that you have been affected by wildfire. Your mortgage servicer can work with you and your insurance company to manage insurance payments. Checks may be written to both you and the mortgage company. Make sure your insurance company has the correct mortgage servicer on file.


​ Before hiring a public adjuster:​

  • ​ Make sure they are licensed in Oregon. Visit the division’s get help page or call 888-877-4894 (toll-free) to check the status of their license.
  • Understand their fee structure. Most public adjusters charge contingency fees of 5 to 15 percent of your insurance settlement. An attorney may charge an hourly rate or a fee based on a percentage of your settlement. Ask what percentage they will charge on what portions of your insurance benefits.
  • Understand the process for terminating the contract before the settlement is finalized, and what it will cost you. Make sure to have this in writing.
  • Talk to three references the adjuster has handled claims for in the past three years.

Four questions to ask before hiring a public adjuster

​ The wildfire season has been extreme, and insurance companies are doing the best they can to serve their customers. Be patient, do the best you can, keep trying, and know that your settlement could take months while bids and estimates are gathered. If you believe you are not making progress with your insurance company or have an unresolved issue, call our consumer advocates for help at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).


Wildfire emergency order

​​​​​​​​The temporary wildfire emergency order was in effect until Nov. 16, 2020. It provided short-term relief to Oregonians following the recent wildfires. The order did not relieve the obligation to pay premiums. This means transitioning away from the order allows consumers to work with their insurance companies to catch up on their premium payments. Use the links below to review the order and related guidance that was provided to insurance companies. Talk to your insurance company if you need additional time to pay premiums or report your claim.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance company or agent. If you have questions or need to file a complaint on an insurance company or agent, contact the division’s advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email: df​r.insurancehelp@oregon.gov.


Additional resources

Press the buttons below to learn more about building a home inventory, gathering important documents, and preparing your family and finances for disaster.


Questions or complaints?

File a complaint online or contact us:

Insurance
888-877-4894 (toll-free)
Email DFR.InsuranceHelp@oregon.gov

Financial services
888-877-4894 (toll-free)
Email DFR.FinancialServicesHelp@oregon.gov

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