ICBC offers British Columbians tips to prepare for wildfire season
July 25, 2022
As we've now entered wildfire season, unfortunately many British Columbians may face evacuation alerts or orders over the summer. We're sharing tips and insurance information for those living or travelling in areas prone to wildfires to help British Columbians prepare.
Over the last five years (2017 to 2021), 313 wildfire-related vehicle claims were reported to ICBC totalling $2.3 million.* In last year's tragic wildfire in Lytton, there were 78 claims totalling $872,000.
Create an emergency plan for your household, and pack a “grab-and-go" bag with emergency supplies for your vehicle. This can make a significant difference in an evacuation.
Keep your important documents (and those of your household members, if possible) together in a spot that's easy to find. This includes your passport, original copies of your birth certificate and Canadian citizenship documents, B.C. Services Card, and driver's licence or B.C. identification card. Other important items include: Social Insurance Number, marriage certificate, vehicle registration, auto and home insurance policies, utility information in case you need to cancel or suspend services, and medications for you and household members.
If you've been placed on evacuation alert and you have multiple vehicles such as a trailer or motorcycle, consider where you park your vehicles. If your vehicle is uninsured or unlicensed, you can buy a temporary operating permit to move your vehicle(s) to safety.
Drivers should check DriveBC.ca before travelling this summer and avoid the areas of the province under evacuation alert or threatened by wildfires. Avoid driving into hazardous areas. If a road is marked closed, do not continue. Back up and use another route.
“We'll do everything we can to serve our customers and business partners if they're impacted by wildfires this summer," said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC's president and CEO. “We're monitoring potential wildfire threats so we can assist customers and communities as quickly as possible. We urge drivers to be safe, prepare for the unexpected and pay attention to wildfire updates and follow evacuation orders."
Insurance coverage for wildfires
We recommend optional comprehensive or specified perils coverages for all our customers, especially those who live in areas that are susceptible to wildfires. If you already have these coverages, you can renew your policy up to 44 days before it expires. If you don't have this coverage, you may purchase it from an Autoplan broker before an evacuation alert or order.
If your vehicle is uninsured or unlicensed and you've been ordered to evacuate or placed on evacuation alert, you won't be able to purchase new comprehensive or specified perils coverage, but you can still buy basic and collision coverages or a temporary operating permit with Basic coverage and extended third party liability to move your vehicle to safety. Once the vehicle has been removed from the alert or evacuation zone, or once those zones are no longer active, you can purchase comprehensive or specified perils coverage.
Here are additional resources to help you monitor up-to-date information for your area:
*Wildfire claims resulting from large wildfire events.