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Homes on fire during the night

Forest Fires – Are you Covered?

Mastery of fire has been a major turning point for mankind, representing a key step in our evolution as human beings. From the food on your plate to the warmth in your house, fire is a huge part of the modern life we’re accustomed to. But as the old saying goes; if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. Fire has deadly potential and when the right conditions align a small spark can cause devastation. At McDougall Insurance we regularly see the damage inflicted from domestic fires, but in the wake of the Fort McMurray disaster, our minds have been captured by the hellish destruction of a forest fire. These fires are massive compared to your typical house burn, easily engulfing areas the size of the GTA in a whirling vortex of flame and smoke. Words can’t adequately describe the chaos, as this captivating video shows.

Acres of forest abolished, thousands of homes destroyed and countless families displaced with nowhere to go. Now, Ontario isn’t exactly known for its wildfires, but consider that our province averages over 1000 of them each year. With the scary thought of forest fire season only just beginning, it may be prudent to wonder; does my insurance policy even protect me from these massive (and costly) fires?

Are You Covered?

The quick answer is yes. When you first purchased your home policy (hopefully through a broker) you are typically protected from a long list of perils with fire featured prominently at its top. Even though a forest fire is considered a natural disaster/ an act of god, which insurers are famous for not covering, your home policy will protect you and your property from any damages resulting from any fire. Doesn’t matter if it is a massive conflagration, or smoke damage because you left the turkey in the oven wayyyyyyy to long. But if fire is something that is covered, what exactly will the insurance company pay for if a claim situation happens?

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Physical Damage to Property

The two big things covered by a home insurance policy are your physical home, and the property contained within it. Since you are protected from the peril of fire, if your home and property were to be damaged or destroyed your insurer would be responsible for reimbursing you for the total amount of damage sustained. This means any and all damage the fire causes to your primary residence, additional dwellings on the premises, contents in your dwellings and external features like trees and shrubs. All you’ll need to do is pay your deductible, kickback and let your insurance company handle the rest.

Additional Living Expenses

The second form of protection comes with coverage for additional living expenses. If your house is on fire, it’s safe to assume you won’t be living in it for long. With your home insurance policy, your insurer will dutifully pay for all additional living expenses incurred while your home is temporarily inhabitable. This includes temporary housing, any additional clothing, and even food while you’re displaced, just be sure to keep those receipts as proof!

What’s NOT Covered

As the Rolling Stones once said “you can’t always get what you want”, which unfortunately applies to your home insurance policy, where not everything is covered. Insurance providers aren’t in the business of taking Mother Nature head on. They wouldn’t be here for long if they did. So although fires are covered by your policy, a number of other big bad events are (typically) not.


Earthquakes? In Canada? While living in Canada, earthquakes are generally not the first thing that come to mind but some Canadian areas are more prone to large earthquakes than others. British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have all registered quakes with a magnitude greater than 6 in the past, which is enough to cause some damage. Unfortunately, due to the raw power and widespread destructive capabilities of these quakes, your home insurance policy will not cover you from any damage they cause. However, while the coverage is not automatically included, most insurers do offer an earthquake endorsement that you can purchase to protect you from this disaster. So if you’re in a riskier area (or worried about earthquakes) this coverage is certainly something you’ll want to look into.


Water can cause an immense amount of damage to homes and so has long been avoided by insurance companies. However, Canada is experiencing ever-worsening storms, likely due to recent climate changes, and most insurers have adapted to deliver several packages to protect against water. The addition of Sewer Back-up coverage will protect your home from bursting pipes and overflowing sewer systems, while the Overland Water coverage will protect against excess rainfall and freshwater flooding. However, all insurers still refrain from insuring against water damage resulting from tsunamis or salt water flooding, as well as any premises that resides in a floodplain. If you are subjected to this type of risk, it will be important to set up other ways to mitigate risk.  No matter where you live, water can always cause damage and so looking into the above coverages would be a very wise investment to protect your home.

In conclusion, yes, your home policy will cover you from the disaster of forest fires, but unfortunately this does not make you immune to all disasters or acts of god. Understanding your coverage can be difficult at times so contact McDougall Insurance & Financial for professional advice to ensure you, your family and your assets are fully protected.

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