Fact: Wildfire season starts earlier and lasts longer each year.

As of May 15th, 2024, there have been a total of 1,019 wildfires in Canada, surpassing the 10-year average of 985 wildfires by this date, according to the Government of Canada.

As we continue to see more wildfires throughout the 2024 wildfire season, adjusters must be proactive in their approach to supporting and guiding policyholders through these challenging times.

Because when a policyholder becomes displaced due to a wildfire, your preparedness and responsiveness can significantly impact their recovery process and overall experience in managing the aftermath of the disaster.

In this blog post, we highlight what you can do to prepare for this wildfire season and how you can make a real difference for your displaced policyholders.

Understanding the Increasing Wildfire Risk

A dense forest with smoke billowing through the trees, indicating the aftermath of a wildfire. The scene is eerie with limited visibility due to the thick smoke.

Before discussing tips for preparing for wildfires this season, it’s important to understand just how devastating wildfires have become.

Traditionally, the wildfire season spanned from March to September. However, climate change has altered this timeline, causing fires to ignite as early as February and persist into the end of October.

In 2023, an estimated 18.4 million hectares of land were burned by wildfires. To put this number in perspective, an average of 2.5 million hectares typically burn in Canada annually. (Government of Canada)

Unfortunately, we can expect the 2024 season to be more impactful and devastating.

As of May 2024, both Alberta and British Columbia are experiencing an unprecedented number of wildfires. The dry conditions, coupled with higher temperatures, have created a perfect storm for these fires to spread rapidly.

For example, on May 10th, 2024, a wildfire struck Fort Nelson First Nation in B.C., with high winds causing the fire to grow rapidly, evacuating 4,700 policyholders, and destroying four homes.

But that’s not the only large wildfire we’ve seen this year.

In early May 2024, evacuation orders were issued to specific communities in Fort McMurray as a wildfire grew to 19,493 hectares and was considered out of control. Luckily, since then, rain and colder temperatures have been able to control the fire and they have lifted the evacuation orders.

We aren’t even in the warmest and driest season yet, so it’s imperative to be prepared for a more detrimental wildfire season with worse conditions and more evacuated policyholders.

Actionable Tips for Staying Prepared This Wildfire Season

A residential street at night with a wildfire blazing on a nearby hillside. The fire illuminates the sky with a bright orange glow, creating a stark contrast against the dark surroundings.

The following are four ways you can prepare for wildfire season to ensure you can handle the increased workload and provide exceptional service to displaced policyholders in times of crisis.

1. Stay Informed and Connected

One of the most important things you can do as an adjuster is to have up-to-date information about the current wildfire situation.

Staying informed ensures you can provide accurate and timely information to policyholders who may reside in a location that may be affected by a wildfire emergency. Additionally, your policyholder’s preparedness can directly affect the displacement process and their dependability on you for support post-displacement.

There are various resources you can bookmark on your computer to stay informed about poor air quality, evacuation procedures, and alerts from emergency officials, so you can keep yourself and your policyholders well-informed.

  • The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), has an interactive map of current wildfires and their severity.
  • The Government of Canada has the Local Air Quality Health Index, which outlines air quality for many Canadian cities.
  • FireSmart Canada has a list of tips you can share with your displaced policyholder on protecting their home before a wildfire strikes.
  • The WeatherCan app provides weather notifications for saved locations to stay updated on current, potential, or new wildfires.
  • The Government of Canada has a list of what to do to prepare your home for wildfires, how to be ready should your policyholder live in an evacuation zone, and more.

Being knowledgeable about the status of wildfires and tips on reducing the impact of wildfires will allow you to ensure your policyholders are prepared should displacement occur.

2. Conduct Pre-Season Policy Reviews

Before the wildfire season peaks, policyholders should conduct a thorough review of their coverage and needs to ensure their policies are up-to-date and they understand their coverage limits and exclusions.

Additionally, many policyholders may not fully understand their Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage.

You may wish to educate your policyholders on what ALE covers, how much ALE they have, and more, so that should displacement occur, you aren’t scrambling to provide them with a handbook of knowledge while trying to handle their claim efficiently.

Providing clear, detailed information will help alleviate some of their stress, ensure they know what support they can expect, and prevent confusion and delays when filing claims.

3. Leverage ALE Management Services

Having a reliable ALE management solution provider like Accomsure on speed dial is one of the most effective ways to prepare for a wildfire.

Accomsure specializes in providing tailored ALE solutions for displaced policyholders, ensuring they have safe and comfortable temporary accommodations after disaster strikes. Accomsure has a Catastrophic Action Plan that ensures specialized care in the event of a CAT event.

By partnering with Accomsure, adjusters can take advantage of a variety of benefits, including:

  • Pre-authorization limits prepared for companies to help expedite placements
  • Preemptively secured properties that ensure Accomsure has properties waiting for those in need
  • All hands on deck, meaning each and every Accomsure employee has a role to play to ensure policyholders and adjusters are provided with excellent care

Reach Out to Accomsure Today

Two individuals in business attire discussing something while looking at a smartphone. One person is holding the phone while the other points at it, suggesting a collaborative decision-making process.

As an adjuster, creating a plan for the wildfire season can significantly impact the lives of policyholders affected by wildfires.

By staying informed, educating clients, utilizing innovative tools, and partnering with Accomsure, you can be ready to provide quick, compassionate, and effective support to displaced policyholders during challenging times.

At Accomsure, we’re dedicated to providing seamless ALE solutions, easing the burden on adjusters, and delivering exceptional care to displaced policyholders.

Contact us today and be ready to call on us when a disaster occurs, ensuring your policyholders find temporary accommodations quickly when needed.