What to do after a natural disaster

MoneySmart
(ASIC)

If your home has been damaged in a bushfire, storm, flood or cyclone, here are some things you can do:

  • Contact your insurer – Lodge a claim with your insurer before you start any major repairs. Ask them to explain their claims process and talk to them about emergency or alternative accommodation if required. Don’t worry if your insurance documents have been lost or damaged, as insurance companies keep electronic records. If possible, check with your insurer before starting any cleanup.
  • Do not do anything unless it is safe to do so – There may be dangers on your property created by the loss or damage to your home or contents (e.g. asbestos on your property, unsafe electrical wiring etc.)
  • Start cleaning up¬†– Once it’s safe to go into your property, consider removing damaged possessions like carpet and soft furnishings. Before cleaning up, take photos and make a list of everything that has been damaged to assist your claim, including the serial numbers of electronics.
  • Check with your insurer before authorising repairs¬†– You may not be covered for unauthorised repairs or if you hire tradesmen without checking with your insurer first.
  • Be careful with damaged equipment¬†– Do not use items that may be damaged, like electronic equipment.

For more information, the Understand Insurance website provides some useful tips on preparing for natural disasters, including checklists and emergency contacts.

Legal Aid NSW has also published guidance on What to do after a natural disaster to help you deal with an insurance company after your property has been damaged.

If you’re having problems with your insurance claim, see¬†how to complain.

Financial hardship after a natural disaster

If you are experiencing financial hardship after a natural disaster, there are options available to you.

Help from your insurer

If you have trouble paying your excess, contact your insurer. They may let you pay the excess in instalments or deduct it from any payout you receive.

If you are in urgent financial need, your insurer may be able to fast-track your claim or give you an advance payment within 5 business days. Any advance payment will be deducted from the total claim.

Help from a financial counsellor

There are free financial counselling services you can contact for help if you are struggling with money following a disaster. We also have information on what to do if you need urgent money help.

Australia is a great place to live but it is also a harsh environment. Taking some time to do your insurance homework will help ensure maximum protection for your home.

 

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