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Wildfires

Wildfire insurance resources

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.

Wildfire Preparedness

Meet with your insurance company or agent at least once a year to review your insurance coverage. Make sure you understand the policy limits, exclusions, and deductibles. Taking time to review your policies will help make sure you have the right coverage to meet your needs.

You can find most of this information on the declarations page of your insurance policy. Each year, your insurance company sends a copy of the declarations page when it is time to renew.


Follow these easy steps to start building your home inventory:

  • Step 1: Take photos of each room in your home. Pay close attention to what's on walls, in closets, and don't forget storage spaces, such as the attic, shed, and garage. Try to group similar items together when taking pictures.
  • Step 2: Write a brief description of each item. Note the make, model, price, and other details that might help when filing a claim.

Save time with the Home Inventory Apps.

Mobile apps can make creating your home inventory easier, and several insurance companies provide these apps for free. Download a mobile app to start building your personal property list.

Download mobile apps for iPhone Download mobile apps for Android


Prepare for disaster by safeguarding your financial information. Collect important documents, such as titles, deeds, and financial records. Make copies or place them and your home inventory in a safe place to quickly grab if you need to escape an approaching fire. This will help save time, money, and stress during and after the wildfire.

Visit the division’s protect your finances from disaster page for more tips and resources.


Create defensible space around your home by removing dry leaves, dead brush, debris, and pine needles from yards and gutters. Trim trees away from homes, barns, and sheds, and place screens over open vents on homes. These tasks reduce the fuels that enable wildfires to spread and give firefighters more time to slow the blaze.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) annually promotes Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on the first Saturday of May. The NFPA has a free toolkit and resources to help you create defensible space around your home.

Oregon State University Extension Service’s Fire Program provides a series of webinars to help you and your community prepare for wildfires.​

During an evacuation

If you are part of a mandatory evacuation:

  • When it is safe, let your insurance company know you have been ordered to evacuate.
  • Save your receipts. Many insurance policies will help 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 damaged or destroyed items.
    • 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 it is safe to do so, complete the three tasks on the division's disaster preparedness page.

  1. Contact your insurance company to check your policy.
    1. Coverage is typically available for fire, smoke, and ash damage to your home and personal property.
    2. Ask about your auto coverage. You need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy to cover fire, smoke, or ash damage, even if it is parked in your garage.  
  2. Make a quick home inventory.
    1. 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.
    2. Check your insurance company's website for an app or checklist that will help. You can also use the Insure U Home Inventory Checklist.
  3. Build a financial backpack.
    1. Gather together important financial documents, such as passports, Social Security cards, titles, deeds, and financial accounts. Use the division's disaster preparedness checklist to help organize the list.
    2. Make copies or scan them to your phone or computer and place them with your go-bag of emergency supplies that you will take with you if you need to evacuate.​

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

Disasters attract many types of scam artists. Beware of anyone posing as a government official, such as a FEMA representative, who asks for your bank account information, asks for money, or does not have official identification. There is no fee to apply for federal assistance.

Beware of unlicensed contractors who may do a poor job or just take your money and run. Check a contractor's license with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board and review its Buyer Beware list. Double check if someone you do not know is asking you for donations to an unfamiliar charity. Visit oregonconsumer.gov for tips from the Oregon Department of Justice on donating to charities online.

Review the Oregon wildfires myth vs. fact sheet for tips to spot fraud, identify scam artists, and report suspicious activity.

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 in the additional resources section for more tips to protect yourself and others from scams.


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).


2020 Wildfire emergency resources

​​​​​​​​​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.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Several insurance companies have agreed to extend timelines to at least two years after the date of loss for 2020 wildfire victims to rebuild homes and replace personal property damaged by the 2020 Labor Day wildfire disaster.​

These insurance companies have also agreed to waive restrictions on where a person may rebuild their home. The insurance benefit limit in most policies is based on the cost to rebuild at the address stated on the declarations page of the policy and may not include increased costs associated with rebuilding in a new location.

The rebuild agreement does not extend the amount of additional living expenses available under a policy, and it does not alter any other terms of the policy contract. See the terms of the agreement for more details.

These insurance companie​s have signed on to this agreement. This list will be updated as other companies sign on. If you have questions about the agreement or your claim, or if you do not see your insurance company on the list, contact your agent or insurance company for more information.

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.

Allied Insurance Company of America

Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Company

Allstate

American Commerce Insurance Company

American Family CONNECT Property and Casualty Insurance Company

American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (AFMICSI)

American Family Insurance Company (AFIC)

Austin Mutual Insurance Company

Commerce West Insurance Company

Country Financial

Crestbrook Insurance Company

CSAA General Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer

Encompass Insurance​

Esurance

Grange Insurance Association​

Harleysville Insurance Company

Homesite Insurance Company of the Midwest

Liberty Mutual

National Casualty Company Inc.​​

Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company of America​

Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company

Nationwide Assurance Company

Nationwide General Insurance Company

Nationwide Insurance Company of America

Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Company

NGM Insurance Company

North Light Specialty

Oregon Mutual Insurance Company

PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company

QBE

Safeco

Scottsdale Indemnity Company

Sublimity Insurance Company

United Heritage Property & Casualty Company

USAA​​

Western Protectors Insurance

​​​

Wildfire insurance town halls

The division hosts virtual wildfire town halls to discuss the claims process, additional living expenses, insurance scams, how to prepare for wildfires, and more. During the last town hall, Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and others discussed the rebuilding process, construction scams, and preparing for the 2021 wildfire season.

Visit the division's videos page to view previous town halls.

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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