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Wildfire insurance resources

Watch the video of the virtual town hall

Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi and his staff share insurance information and answer questions during the virtual Wildfire Insurance Town Hall.

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 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.

​If you are part of a mandatory evacuation:

  • When it is safe, contact your insurance company to let them know you have been evacuated, check your policy coverage, and learn about next steps.
  • Save your receipts. Many insurance policies cover expenses such as lodging, food, and even pet boarding.
  • Check with your insurance company to confirm your specific coverage.
  • Try to use some time to work on a home inventory list. If your personal belongings are damaged, the insurance company will request a list of items that are damaged or destroyed.
    • Look through photos and videos to help recall personal items. Pay close attention to what is in the background and look for smaller items, such as jewelry.
    • To the best of your ability, write down the age, original cost, and replacement cost of each item.

If you are on alert to evacuate:

  • Contact your insurance company to check your policy. Coverage is typically available for fire, smoke, and ash damage to your home and personal property.
  • Ask about your auto coverage. You need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy to cover fire, smoke, or ash damage to your vehicle, no matter where your vehicle is at time of the loss.
  • If it is safe to do so, make a quick home inventory. Take photos or video of each room in your home. Pay close attention to what is on the walls and in drawers and closets. Do not forget storage areas such as the attic and garage. Check your insurance company’s website for an app or checklist that will help. You can also use the Insure U Home Inventory Checklist.

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.

  • Be sure to make safety a top priority when surveying damage to your home.
  • Try to contact your insurance company as soon as possible if your home or property is damaged. Ask about making temporary repairs, take photos of the damage, and save receipts for any work that is done.

  • ​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.
  • ​​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

​ Before you do any cleanup, or hire anyone to clean up wildfire debris, review the guidance from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality . Remember to work closely with your insurance company in this clean-up 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.

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 To talk to a consumer advocate, call 888-877-4894 (toll-free).

Before hiring an attorney or public adjuster, determine if they are the right person for your situation. They will charge a fee based on your settlement amount. Typically, it is better to work with your insurance company to understand your responsibilities and the settlement process. If you are confused about your responsibilities and the process, call our consumer advocates for clarity.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

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).

​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.

​​​​​The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issued a temporary emergency order in response to the Oregon wildfires. It requires insurance companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy cancellations and nonrenewals, and extend deadlines for reporting claims.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact your provider. 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​


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.

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