If you have been affected by the recent bushfire catastrophe we’re here to give you a helping hand navigating your insurance claim. Our team understand that it will be a difficult time for you and your family, and we’re here to assist in any way possible.

There are a number of things to consider when making a claim. Let’s take a look at some options that are available for personal insurance types such as Home Building Insurance, Home Contents Insurance. But before we go into further detail regarding policies, make sure you follow these tips for making a claim.

Making a claim after a Bushfire

It can be devastating having to make a claim after a bushfire. To make the process smooth and to alleviate the stress of navigating the claims process we recommend the following steps:

1. Ensure that you and your family are safe and make sure the area is safe.

2. Contact your insurance broker as soon as possible and provide them with detailed information. This will help process your claim quicker. If you are unable to access your property to assess the damage you can still contact your insurance broker to get the claims process started.

3. Typically in a serious event such as a bushfire, insurers usually required an assessor to examine the property onsite before any repairs have been made.

4. Before commencing any emergency repairs, make sure you speak to your broker to get clarity around what can and can’t be done. If you are allowed to conduct emergency repairs, make sure you keep records of all damage and repairs such as photos, videos and receipts.

5. Create an inventory list of damaged and destroyed items, take photos of any items that may need to be removed urgently for make safe or before an assessor has been.

Ensure that you have an inventory list prepared to replace damaged or destroyed items.

Home Building and Contents Insurance

 

What’s Covered in Home Building insurance?

If you have your home protected by Home Building Insurance, you may be surprised what is covered in the event of a bushfire. Generally speaking, Home Building Insurance covers residential building which includes structural improvements, fixtures and fittings. In other words, the walls, gates, decks, patios, balconies, paths, driveways and fences.

Home Building Insurance also covers fixtures and fittings such as permanently fixed items including installed dishwashers or wall mounted air conditioners. If you have solar panels, pumps, generators or fixed external awnings and screens this will be also be covered.  There are more items that are covered and haven’t been listed. We recommend getting in contact with our team or reading through your product disclosure statement (PDS).

 

What Isn’t Covered in Home Building Insurance?

Depending on the policy, some Home Building Insurance may not cover the following: greenery (such as gardens and lawns), outdoor decorations, buildings and other structures that are used for commercial purposes (other than a room within the residential room used as a home office).

However, depending on your policy some of these items may be covered. Refer to your policies PDS.

 

Does Home Building Insurance provide Temporary Accommodation & Emergency Accommodation?

Depending on the damage to your property, you may able to access cover for temporary accommodation or emergency accommodation. Is there a difference between the two? Yes. Emergency accommodation is arranged when it is unsafe to live in the property for a short-term period, whereas temporary accommodation is arranged when a home is completely destroyed or requires significant repairs and accommodation is required for a long-term period.

If you have Home Building Insurance policy you may be compensated for the costs of temporary accommodation for you, your family and your pets if your home is no longer in a safe habitable condition.  If you are a tenant and hold a Home Contents policy you may be able to access coverage for payable rent.

The cover you will receive may depend on the insurance policy’s PDS.

 

Does Home Building Insurance provide Temporary Accommodation & Emergency Accommodation?

Depending on the damage to your property, you may able to access cover for temporary accommodation or emergency accommodation. Is there a difference between the two? Yes. Emergency accommodation is arranged when it is unsafe to live in the property for a short-term period, whereas temporary accommodation is arranged when a home is completely destroyed or requires significant repairs and accommodation is required for a long-term period.

If you have Home Building Insurance policy you may be compensated for the costs of temporary accommodation for you, your family and your pets if your home is no longer in a safe habitable condition.  If you are a tenant and hold a Home Contents policy you may be able to access coverage for payable rent.

The cover you will receive may depend on the insurance policy’s PDS.

What to do next if you require temporary accommodation

If you have any of the above insurance policies, get in touch with your insurance broker as soon as possible. Once your claim has been lodged we recommend the following steps:

  1. Start researching suitable rental properties and contacting real estate agencies for rental accommodation.
  2. Discuss options with the assessor or your insurance broker
  3. Remember that the policy will generally only cover a suitable property of a similar size to the one you had. However, depending on availability this may not be possible.

What about lost refrigerated food?

Yes, you may also be able to claim for food and other perishables that have been destroyed due to power outages caused by the effects of the bushfires.  Most policies will cover replacement of food lost due to a blackout.

 

Rebuild Costs Versus Cash Settlements

If your home has been damaged or destroyed and your claim has been accepted by the insurer, your claim will normally be settled in one of two ways:

  1. Cash Settlement – This is a monetary payout that allows you the freedom and control to manage the repair or rebuild on your own.
  2. Rebuild Costs & Replacement – This is when the Insurer organises a builder to conduct repairs and manages the process on your behalf through to completion.

The availability of these settlements depends on the individual situation and is generally at the insurer’s discretion. Both settlements have their advantages and disadvantages and should be carefully considered before proceeding. We would recommend that you consult a broker before deciding which way to proceed.

If you would like any additional information on this or any other claims related matter please contact our office on 02 4421 5055.