(KHON2) – As firefighters continue to battle the deadly, Hurricane Dora-driven blazes that devastated the town of Lahaina, many residents will soon start the process of filing insurance claims in hopes of recouping the value of their homes, belongings and businesses.

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It’s important to remember that the most important thing to do first is to follow any evacuation orders and make sure you are safe before worrying about making calls to an insurance company, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), a national trade association for home, auto and business insurers.

The first step after that is to contact your insurer to get the claims process started. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to wait until you get home to call or reach out via the insurer’s website.

If your home was damaged, one of the first things to ask the insurer about is temporary housing, according to the APCIA. Your insurance company may cover the cost of temporary shelter, as well as housing during the rebuilding process.

“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by these terrible wildfires. The first step towards recovery is to file a claim.  Insurance carriers are ready to help Hawaii residents and travelers visiting the Islands,” Karen Collins, APCIA vice president, property & environmental, said in a news release. “Communication is limited right now, but insurers are ready to start claims as soon as policyholders can make contact.”

The APCIA advises displaced renters and homeowners to keep hotel and meal receipts, as insurers may also cover additional living expenses for customers whose homes are uninhabitable.

The next step in the claims process is to work with an adjuster, who can answer specific questions, give damage estimates and settle your claim.

In a note to those affected by the fires, Island Insurance also recommended that all residents and business owners secure any important documents, including insurance policies, if possible.

“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the Maui and Hawaii Island residents and business owners impacted by these devastating wildfires. We are also thankful for our first responders who are bravely putting their lives on the line,” said Beverly Ament, Island Insurance President. “Island Insurance has been there for Hawaii’s families and businesses for over 80 years, and we stand ready to support our customers and the community through this difficult time.” 

APCIA encourages everyone impacted to contact their insurer to start a claim, offering these tips for auto, boat, business, homeowner and travel insurance:

  1. Contact your insurer to get the claims process started. All policyholders should contact your insurer. Insurers can be contacted via their  toll-free contact numbers, app or website.
  2. Auto Insurance – If your car was destroyed in the wildfires and you have comprehensive coverage, your company will work with you to file a claim and get you the benefits of your policy.
  3. Boat/Marine Insurance – If your boat was damaged or destroyed in the wildfires, contact your boat insurer to file a claim. 
  4. Business Property Insurance – Businesses that have business property coverage should make a list of their inventory that has been destroyed.  If your business has been closed due to wildfires or loss of power, you may have business interruption coverage available under your policy. Talk to your agent or company.
  5. Homeowners – Discuss coverage for temporary housing with your insurer. Your insurance may pay for temporary shelter immediately and if your property is damaged, your coverage will help cover the cost of housing while you rebuild. Homeowners and renters insurance policies generally provide coverage for additional living expenses if a covered loss makes your home uninhabitable. Keep your hotel and meal receipts. If you own and rent out a secondary home that has been affected, talk to your agent or company on coverage you may have available under a landlord policy. This might include loss of rental income while the home is repaired.
  6. Travel Insurance – Tourists on vacation in Maui are being asked to move to another island or return home.  If you purchased travel insurance, contact your insurer for assistance and to ensure you know what documentation you will need to file a claim. Save your receipts for additional expenses you incur.