Insurance offers hope for fire victims

September 7, 2011 4:19:05 PM PDT
The fast moving fires that have engulfed Texas are leaving behind a trail of destruction. But even those who have lost everything may find some good news when it comes to insurance.

These fires are moving so fast some homeowners only had a few minutes to get out. Even in cases where everything was left behind, chances are you are covered.

For fire victims still in an evacuation area, this is a painful time.

Cindi Amendt who was forced out of her home said, "Very frustrating, but I understand, they are just like us. It is a waiting game."

Amendt does not know what she will find when firefighters finally allow her to get back to her property. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, leaving behind nothing but charred ruins. But for those home owners there's one piece of good news -- if they have insurance they are covered.

"Absolutely, there are no exclusions on that," explained independent insurance agent Scott West. "You will have a deductible, and your deductible should be the smallest possible deductible on your policy."

West he says homeowners with damage should contact their insurance agent as soon as they know the scope of the destruction. West adds that the moments before a fire bears down on your home is not the time to worry about insurance papers.

West advised, "I'd grab my kids, my pets, photo albums and leave."

Instead, West says act before an emergency hits.

"You should go ahead and take a camera -- a digital camera -- and go through your house and photograph everything and store that information away from your home. That is number one," West said. "Number two, keep your insurance information, duplicate sets, again someplace way from your home."

If all your information was destroyed, look for field adjusters who are heading to the fire stricken areas and introduce yourself.

"A lot of companies have disaster teams, mobile units, motor homes, they will show up at the scene of the disaster," West said. "If you recognize your insurance company on the side of the motor home, that is somebody you should talk to."

For those who had cars destroyed it gets more complex. If you have comprehensive coverage, no problem, you are covered for the loss. If you only have liability coverage, like on an older car, you are not covered.

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