The Yarra Ranges is a great place to live. But now and then, we face storms, floods and bushfires.
We know from our climate and history that many residents may face these emergencies in the future and sometimes the unexpected can happen like a bushfire, flood, storm or even landslip so we all need to prepare to protect what matters the most to us.
Insurance gives you peace of mind and helps you bounce back financially if an emergency does affect you but finding out what insurance suits you can be a difficult and daunting task.
These questions which were common themes throughout the Insurance Council of Australia Workshops may assist in giving temporary housing, insurance premium rate increases and rebuilding to a newer code.
Contact your insurer immediately. If you have home or building insurance, your policy may provide emergency temporary accommodation.
A Catastrophe Declaration is made by the Insurance Council and means additional resources are made available to speed up insurance claims processing. In contrast, a Disaster Declaration is made by government and may make additional funds available for the recovery. These declarations have no effect on your insurance, your excess or what is covered by your policy. To find out if you are eligible visit: www.vic.gov.au/storm-and-flood-recovery
An insurance assessor will inspect your property as quickly as possible once you’ve lodged a claim. However, following large disasters, access to your property may be limited for days or even weeks. Your insurer will tell you when to expect your assessor.
An excess is the amount you have agreed to pay towards each incident. The specific amount will be set out in your Certificate of Insurance. You may be required to pay more than one excess depending on the circumstances. If you are unsure, ask your insurer. A Disaster Declaration does not remove your obligation to pay your excess.
If you have contents cover, your insurer may provide a payment to cover spoiled food without the need for receipts up to a set amount. Check your PDS or speak with your insurer for more information.
A ‘Make Safe’ is immediate rectification works to prevent further damage to your property or make the site safe to visit. This may include fitting tarpaulins to your roof or treating debris with an adhesive to prevent the spread of contaminants.
A ‘Make Safe’ may initially be conducted by emergency services, government agency or a contractor appointed by your insurer.
In the event of total loss, debris removal can be very expensive depending on location and whether contaminants (such as asbestos) are present. Some policies may provide a certain allowance for debris removal above the sum insured, while others will deduct this cost directly from the sum insured. For more information, check your insurance policy or speak with your insurer.
A scope of works is a document that sets out what damage to your property is covered by your insurance policy. The scope of works is a list of home building repair works for your insurance claim. It can help identify and outline what repair or rebuilding work is needed to fix things. It may be used to obtain repair quotes.
Your scope of works is usually prepared by your insurer’s loss adjuster and/or builder or engineer. The scope of works may be developed by visiting or virtually assessing your property to inspect the damage and asking you for information
A Scope of Work is not necessarily fixed and can be amended by agreement with your insurer. Additional damage may not become apparent until the repair work commences. In this event, the insurer may add additional items throughout the repair. If new items need to be added to the Scope of Work, your insurer may appoint another assessor or an engineer to provide a second opinion.
The extent of damage, complexity of your claim and access to labour and supplies will impact how long a repair or rebuild will take. Once your Scope of Work is complete, ask your insurer for a timeline.
Depending upon the age of your home and its location, it may need to be repaired to a higher standard of construction that was originally used. For example, if your home is on bushfire prone land, it will need to be rebuilt to the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating for your address. This will increase the cost of repair.
If an insured event causes damage to your home that makes it unfit to live in, insurers can arrange temporary accommodation for your family and household pets while your home is being repaired – up to 10% of your sum insured or up to 12 months.
It's worth checking with your insurer on the coverage limit, as different insurance providers may cover the cost of renting another home for a number of months, though this will vary between coverage cost and insurance provider. However, the maximum coverage generally runs for 12 months.
Customers should read their product disclosure statement (PDS) to confirm their specific coverage for temporary accommodation:
There are often two criteria when it comes to temporary accommodation – the first is the 12-month time limit, the second is a total benefit amount which is often a percentage of the sum insured.
The start of the 12-month window is generally from when the insurer first starts paying for temporary accommodation, not the date of the event.
Any consideration outside of the policy terms and conditions is an insurer by insurer claim by claim matter. The 12-month period may be extended depending on the circumstances surrounding the claim and reasons for delay in the rebuild or repair process. We encourage residents to have a conversation with their insurer about this matter, and if they’re not satisfied with the response, the complaints process is available to them.
Here are some reasons why a home insurer may deny your claim for temporary accommodation or stop paying for it.
• Your home was deemed liveable by an insurance assessor
• There were avoidable delays which lead to you exceeding the reasonable time it takes for repairs. This is usually no longer than 12 months.
• If you weren't living in the house when the damage was caused
• If you have no intention of rebuilding or repairing
• If you have indicated that you don't need alternate accommodation (i.e. staying with family or friends)
Most states prohibit insurance companies cancelling your coverage or singling you out for a rate increase due to a natural disaster damage claim. However, If the insurance agency deems that you live in at risk area, they may raise premiums to protect themselves from further events. You can and should compare premiums among other insurers to find the best deal for you, every year.