Wildfires can disrupt all aspects of life, including business plans. Ensuring that you are ready for all types of business interruptions, including natural disasters like wildfires, means you will be prepared for and ready to recover after the fire subsides. Having a business continuity plan that focuses on wildfire recovery will ensure a smooth transition from uncertainty to business-as-usual. Our wildfire preparedness guide will offer advice on planning, preparation, evacuation and filing an insurance claim after a wildfire.

Pre-Planning Your Business' Safety before a Wildfire Occurs

Planning and preparing can make a big difference in staying safe during and rebounding after a wildfire. Recovering quickly from such an event requires advanced planning, knowledge of what to do in the event of a wildfire, and how to report any losses.

In anticipation of such a wildfire, start talking to your Gallagher representative as early as possible to be sure you secure appropriate insurance coverage, update current location schedules, and understand what is covered with your current property policy.

Preparing for a Wildfire

Awareness and preparation are key factors in minimizing risk during a wildfire. By understanding your vulnerabilities and proper planning, you can reduce any detrimental effects to your organization and employees. The best protection is to have a solid wildfire disaster plan in place.

Meet with your emergency response team in preparation for an event.

Evacuation Preparation Steps during a Wildfire

When a wildfire evacuation is anticipated, follow the steps below to give you and your employees the best chance of surviving a wildfire.

  • Heed evacuation warnings. It may seem like you have time, but conditions can change in an instant, making evacuation more difficult. In addition, leaving when ordered by local officials clears the roads so firefighters can get the necessary equipment in place to fight the fire.
  • When evacuating, prepare yourself, employees and tenants for exposure to heat and embers. If possible, wear long pants made from 100% cotton, a long-sleeved shirt, heavy boots or shoes, a dry bandanna for face cover, and goggles or glasses to protect your eyes.
  • If possible, shut off the gas to prevent an ignition source.

Post-Wildfire Recovery Guidelines for your Business

After receiving the "all-clear" signal from your local agencies or emergency personnel, you can begin your post-wildfire procedures. Review your Business Interruption and Extra Expense Claims list on how to assess possible business interruption impacts, as well as potential claims coverage. Bring your Preliminary Damage Assessment Report and be ready to take pictures or video of damage to the property. It's important that your claims handler receives this information as soon as possible.

  • Inspect your property for immediate dangers – watch for falling debris, still burning embers, exposed electrical wires or wild animals.
  • Remove dead plants, trees or other dry vegetation near the building in case any flyaway embers ignite.
  • Secure any areas where dangers exist with caution tape. Keep areas cordoned off until a determination is made regarding safety.
  • Use flashlights to examine walls, floors, doors and windows to ensure building is not in danger of collapsing. If the building is in danger of collapsing, do not enter.
  • Inspect the foundations for cracks and other significant damage, paying particular attention to retaining walls.
  • Look for any exposed wiring or electrical lines. If the power has not been turned off, do so immediately.
  • Complete an incident report and forward pictures to your supervisor, corporate office and insurance agent.

  • Notify staff and corporate of the situation.
  • Assist all staff, especially those with disabilities and special needs, exiting the building.
  • Ensure you have the following items available: cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, battery operated handheld radio(s), flashlights, cameras, additional chargers and batteries, water, food, first aid supplies and additional items from your disaster supply list.
  • Check local emergency broadcast radio for updated information regarding the path of the wildfire.

You will also need to contact the following groups after a wildfire:

  • Emergency services, such as the fire department, gas and electric companies, as necessary based on the review of the property.
  • A security company if there is sufficient damage to the property to arrange for surveillance. Instruct them to assist in directing emergency vehicles into the area and supply a list of approved employees to reduce the possibility of looters.
  • Local hospitals regarding injured staff and keep a log of all calls.
  • Your corporate office and insurance carrier to verbally report damage so that an adjuster can be sent to the site.
  • Vendors, such as cleaning services, biohazard companies, electricians or plumbers, to help reduce further damage to the property.

While organizing the post-wildfire recovery efforts for your business, be sure to review your wildfire emergency plan, and update as necessary. Lastly, complete any mitigation items as directed by FEMA or any other insurance carrier.

Filing a Commercial Insurance Claim due to Wildfire Damage

Once your local agencies or emergency personnel have said it's safe to return to your business, you can begin your post-wildfire recovery measures. Examine your property and complete your Preliminary Damage Assessment Report with pictures or video of the fire damage and property and a facility inspection. You may also bring your Business Interruption and Extra Expense Claims list to determine insurance coverage and business operations impact.

It's important that your Gallagher claims handler receives this information as quickly as possible. Also make sure to maintain an up-to-date Policy and Claim Reporting Information Directory, should such an event occur.

Claims Reporting Reference Guide

Coverage FAQs and forms to help your claims process.

Download Claims Guide

Find your Insurance Carrier

Use our Commercial Claims Contact List to find phone numbers and email addresses of your insurance carrier.

View Claims Contacts

Starting a Commercial Insurance Claim due to Wildfire Damage

In order for a claim to be initiated and investigation to begin, the claim handler must have as much detail as possible. The following is recommended:

Claims Process for Commercial Insurance: What to Expect

Throughout the claim investigation process, you may have various coverage-related questions. Please reach out to your Gallagher representative with specific policy and claim questions. During this high-volume claim reporting period, you should anticipate the following:

  • The adjuster assignment and initial contact may take some time. Some insurers may use adjusters under contact rather than staff adjusters, so the adjuster’s contact information may appear different than expected.
  • Access to the affected areas may be limited for quite a great length of time due to blocked access roads.
  • Competition for labor and materials may be high, which could impact the timeframe and costs associated with repair and remediation.
  • Working together with your claim adjusters closely. If you have questions regarding the resolution process, your Gallagher representative is here to assist and ensure you are in control of the claim progress.

Your policy and insurance company’s website will contain important information about how to handle claims and manage losses. To summarize your policy details, use our Policy and Claim Reporting Information Directory.

Related Products & Services