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Published: Sep 15, 2020 6 min read
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The trauma of a wildfire is compounded only by the stress of trying to figure out if you’re covered under your insurance and how to collect under those policies for any damage to your property. Fortunately, ample free help is available, from coverage information to claims advocacy to mental-health counseling.

This year’s wildfire season in the west is worse than the norm. So far, there have been about 15% more fires than in 2019, and they’ve burned half a million more acres of forest, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. More than 4.5 million properties are at high to extreme risk of fire damage, according to risk assessment agency Verisk, including a full 15% of all the homes in California.

The good news is that, according to the Insurance Information Institute, most homeowners and renters are covered for fire damage under their regular household insurance, and for damage to their cars from their auto insurance (provided it includes comprehensive coverage, as most policies do). This is in contrast to the floods caused by hurricanes and other weather disturbances, which insurance generally doesn't cover.

But preparing to make an insurance claim as you’re still wrestling with the disruption of a forest fire is challenging indeed. If you’re a homeowner who’s been affected, or fear you could soon become one, here’s a rundown of resources you can turn to for help with your insurance coverage — and in coping with the logistical, and even emotional, aspects of making a claim.