Bushfire Preparation

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) believes Australia is moving toward hotter spring and summer weather, creating perfect conditions for bushfires.

The 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season, colloquially referred to as the Black Summer started in early September with bushfires devastating parts of SE Queensland ad northern NSW.  Hundreds of fires raged uncontrolled, over six months - through Spring and Summer, affecting drought impacted areas of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. 

The devastating fires peaked in January 2020 and were finally controlled and extinguished in March 2020. The estimated insurance loss bill attributed to the Black Summer is at $2.31 billion (May 2020) and 38,181 claims (May 2020).

What can I do to protect my home and contents from bushfire this season?

  • Prepare and follow the advice of your local fire service. Make sure you have the appropriate insurance cover to avoid severe financial loss in the event your home or contents are destroyed by bushfire
  • Make sure valuable assets are adequately protected and ensure the sum insured matches the value of these assets
  • Now is the time to reassess the value of your home and contents, vehicles and any outbuildings you have on your property, and the level of cover you need to financially protect them

How do I know if my assets are covered for bushfire damage?

  • Make sure you understand what coverage you have, as well as any exclusions that may be a part of your insurance policy. It is important to be aware of these exclusions and to query any part of a policy you do not understand
  • Australia has a highly competitive general insurance market, which means you can shop around and find an insurance policy that best suits your individual circumstances
  • If you have vehicles on your premises, check to see whether your insurer will provide a temporary replacement while yours is repaired or replaced if damaged

Are there steps I can take now to help any future claims I might make?

  • Yes. Policyholders should prepare an inventory of their contents by undertaking a room-by-room evaluation of their assets, The ICA's Understand Insurance website has a free household inventory checklist http://www.understandinsurance.com.au
  • Speak to your individual insurer, they will be able to help you calculate the value of your assets to ensure you have the right level of cover. To assist policyholders, the ICA also provides buildings and contents calculators, they are available here: http://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/for-consumers/calculators
  • If you are concerned about the potential total loss of your property, speak to a reputable builder and get a quote for the cost of a complete rebuild. Once you have this, speak to your insurer and make sure your sum insured covers this cost

What should I do if my home and contents or other assets are damaged or destroyed by a bushfire?

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and seek advice about the claims process
  • Do not be concerned if insurance documents are not readily at hand. Insurers keep records electronically and require only your name and address in order to find a policy
  • Before you remove and discard any damaged goods, take photographs that you can show your insurer as evidence for your claim
  • Contact your insurer before authorising major repairs
  • To help the claims process, make an inventory of the possessions that have been damaged as a result of the bushfire
  • Your insurer is there to help. If you are unsure about anything seek clarification from them

What practical steps can I take to protect my home against bushfire?

  • Ensure your property is fitted with a smoke alarm. Keep the grass, shrubs and trees around your property trimmed and clear your gutters of any dry leaves
  • Keep woodpiles and other flammable materials well away from your home
  • Avoid complacency and develop a bushfire survival plan. Plan how and when you will leave your home in the event it is threatened by a bushfire. Stick to your plan
  • For more practical information on how to prepare and act when your home is threatened by a bushfire, contact the relevant fire services authority in your state or territory

Find an insurer at: http://www.findaninsurer.com.au/