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ICBC offers tips for wildfire season

More than $2 million in vehicle damage due to wildfires
Wildfires pose a danger to vehicles as well as to the forest, ICBC reports.(Phil McLachlan/Western News file photo)

On June 29 last year, the town of Lytton set a Canadian high-temperature record of 49.6 C (121.3 F).

The next day, the town was destroyed as a wildfire swept through it. The devastation, according to ICBC, included 78 vehicle-related claims, worth $872,000.

From 2017 to 2021, ICBC said, there were 313 claims related to wildfires totalling $2.3 million.

Those statistics have prompted ICBC to share some tips and insurance information for those living or travelling in areas prone to wildfires.

“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.”

ICBC recommends optional comprehensive or specified perils coverages for all vehicle owners, especially those who live in areas that are susceptible to wildfires.

If you don’t have this coverage, you can purchase it from an Autoplan broker before an evacuation alert or order is issued. 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 Once the vehicle has been removed from the alert or evacuation zone, or once those zones are no longer active, you can purchase comprehensive or specified perils coverage.

ICBC also has some tips to prepare for a possible evacuation, starting with creating an emergency plan and packing a grab bag with emergency supplies.

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 your 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 your 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 it to safety.

Other resources to help you monitor up-to-date information for your area include monitoring BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Info BC for evacuation orders and updates on the current situation, along with the Air Quality Health Index.

Drivers should check before travelling 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, just back up and use another route.