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Lindeen Offers Tips for a Fire Safe Summer

June 29, 2012

HELENA, Mont. – As homeowners across Montana look to rebuild from recent wildfires, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen gave Montanans some valuable tips for protecting their property and preparing for disaster.

"Act now to protect your property," said Lindeen. "Fire season in Montana is just getting started. Luckily, there are steps every Montanan can take today to protect their property and prepare for the worst. Some of the work you do to protect your home may even entitle you to discounts on your homeowners insurance premiums."

Reducing the fire threat around a home by clearing dry vegetation could not only save the property from a fire, but also reduce the cost of insuring the home. Homeowners should talk to their agents about discounts available for reducing their property's fire risk.

Farm and ranch insurance policies differ from homeowner's insurance policies in that they may combine coverages for the dwelling (personal) property and the farm and ranch (commercial) property. As with other commercial policies, farm and ranch property may need to be scheduled in order to have coverage. For example, the loss of cattle is generally not covered unless specifically scheduled with an additional premium paid. Consumers should talk to their agent to determine what is and isn't covered under their current policy, and what options they have to expand coverage.

Lindeen offered four simple steps Montana homeowners should take today to prevent insurance issues from becoming a problem in the event of a fire:

  1. Review your coverage - Carefully re-read and understand your insurance policy, especially all endorsements and riders. Make sure you have the proper level of coverage and that your home is not underinsured in case of a total loss. If you have recently renovated or built an addition for your home, be sure to contact your agent and make sure your home's added value is covered.
  2. Store insurance documents in safe place - A fireproof safe or a safe-deposit box can protect important insurance and mortgage documents, ensuring you have all the information you need when it comes time to file a claim.
  3. Keep a home inventory - Take pictures or video of your household belongings, making an item-by-item inventory of all contents including valuables in every room of your home. Note the approximate value of each item and when it was purchased. Building an inventory is easy with the home inventory checklist or the MyHome Scr.APP.book application for iPhones, iPods, and Android smart phones from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Be sure to store your home inventory in a safe place.
  4. Ask questions - If you don't understand your policy or the coverage you currently have, call the Commissioner's office at 800-332-6148 and ask for help. The Commissioner's team of insurance experts is always ready to answer your questions and help you understand your policy.

For more information, call the Commissioner's office at 800-332-6148, or visit the Commissioner's website at csi.mt.gov.