The horrible Fort McMurray wildfires have garnered international media attention for their scope, size and impact. The entire city and surrounding areas remain under an evacuation order, and more than 80,000 people have been displaced. Although there has been positive news as of late in that it’s been reported that 85 percent of the city has survived, the situation still remains dangerous and volatile. The fires could take months to completely extinguish, and residents are being asked to remain away from the area for the time being. The fire has nonetheless destroyed entire neighbourhoods and caused untold millions of dollars in property losses.
Right now, the focus is on getting the fire under control and making sure the area is safe for the return of residents. The Canadian federal government, as well as provincial and municipal governments across Alberta, and the Red Cross are stepping up assistance efforts. If you’ve been directly affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire, or another of the dozens of other active fires that are currently burning in Alberta, it’s important that you know where to turn for help.
Government and NGO Registration and Information Resources
If you’ve been evacuated, it is vitally important that you register with the Canadian Red Cross, even if you and your family members have reached safety and are in a stable situation. Families totalling eight people or less can register online, but if there are more than eight members of your household, please call the Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070.
The Government of Alberta is regularly updating the situation on its website. For up-to-date information, please click here and follow the pertinent internal links for further details.
The City of Calgary is among the Alberta municipalities offering assistance to evacuees. Displaced people and families arriving in Calgary should register in person at the University of Calgary Reception and Dining Centre, located at 124 University Gate NW. Temporary accommodations are being provided, but you can still qualify for assistance even if you have a place to stay. Clothing, food, transit tickets, toiletries, medical assistance and support services are available. For further information, please visit the City of Calgary’s fire relief assistance website.
Claims Information and Financial Assistance for Affected Residents
As you would expect, the Alberta home insurance industry is currently working hard to process claims and assist with requests. Most standard home insurance policies provide fire protection, so you can expect to receive financial benefits once your claim has been processed. In the meantime, the province is also providing emergency financial assistance to qualified residents. Adults are eligible for a $1,250 benefit, and each dependent can receive a further $500.
- Some insurance companies are offering emergency assistance funds
- Temporary claims centres have been established at evacuation shelters
- Mobile response units are in place
- Insurance companies have brought in additional personnel to help with demand
Of course, the generosity of businesses and individuals will go a long way. To donate, please visit the Canadian Red Cross’s wildfire relief website here. The province has indicated that it will match all donations made to the Red Cross.
What to Do if You’ve Been Evacuated
If you’ve been displaced by the wildfire, chances are you’re going to have some home insurance questions once you’ve reached safety. The first thing you should do is contact your insurance company or your Alberta insurance broker as soon as possible for further information. If you had to leave behind important documents, or if you can’t remember who your Alberta home insurance provider is, the Insurance Bureau of Canada can help. The IBC has set up a hotline: call 1-844-2ASK-IBC for assistance.
Keeping in mind that you will not be able to go back home until the situation has been completely resolved, there are some details you should try your best to provide to your insurance provider. Here are the key things to consider:
- You will need to provide a list of all items damaged or destroyed by the fire
- Keep all receipts for expenses related to your evacuation so you can be reimbursed if you’re eligible
- When you contact your insurance company, be sure to ask about your eligibility for expense reimbursement
When your claim is ready to process, you will be assigned to an adjuster. From there, you will need to submit documentation related to your losses. The IBC offers further specifics on its website.
Alberta Home Insurance: Heartfelt Thanks to Emergency Response Crews and Volunteers from Your Friends at Lane’s Insurance
Lane’s Insurance and its partner carriers would like to thank all emergency response workers and volunteers for their efforts during this difficult time. If you require any assistance from a Lane’s Insurance representative, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can reach our customer service department by clicking here, or by calling (403) 264-8171. Please take care and stay safe.