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.
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
- 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.
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
Create defensible space around your home
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.
Level 1 and 2 evacuation alert
If it is safe to do so, complete the three tasks on the division's
disaster preparedness page.
- 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, even if it is parked in your garage.
- Make a quick
- 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.
- Build a financial backpack.
- 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.
- 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.
Additional living expenses for uninhabitable homes
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 email@example.com.
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.
Filing an insurance 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.
Settling an insurance claim
- 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.
Consider buying flood insurance
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
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
Avoid imposters and scams
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.
Do not be pressured to settle
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
2020 Wildfire emergency resources
2020 Wildfire emergency order 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebuild timeline agreement for 2020 wildfires
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 companies 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
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
Crestbrook Insurance Company
CSAA General Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer
Grange Insurance Association
Harleysville Insurance Company
Homesite Insurance Company of the Midwest
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
Scottsdale Indemnity Company
Sublimity Insurance Company
United Heritage Property & Casualty Company
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.
Press the buttons below to learn more about building a home inventory, gathering important documents, and preparing your family and finances for disaster.