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Help in disasters​

We're the representative body for the general insurance industry of Australia. We are on the ground following disasters to coordinate insurer response.

How are insurers responding to the 2022 floods?

  • Insurers are on the ground working hard to help their customers, particularly those who’ve been impacted the most.
  • While those who have been more severely impacted are being prioritised, all customers can be assured their insurer is there to support them.
  • Contact your insurer if you need assistance.

Below you’ll find articles with practical information to help you find out more on what to do during and after a disaster.

Suggestions:
Disaster chasers, Flood, Safety
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Who is my insurer?

If you have been involved in a severe weather event and cannot remember who your insurer is or your insurance papers were lost, complete this form  and we will endeavour to respond to you within two business days.

If you know who your insurer is, you must contact them directly.

Help in disasters FAQs

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.

An insurance assessor will inspect your property as quickly as possible once you’ve lodged a claim. That said, 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.

Unfortunately, disasters can attract fraudsters looking to profit from others misfortune.  If a builder or assessor unexpectedly arrives at your door offering services, you may ask to see some identification for your peace of mind.  You may also contact your insurer to confirm the builder or assessor has been appointed to assist with your claim.

During disasters, friends and volunteers may – with the best of intentions – attempt to remove damaged items from your home.  Unfortunately, they often remove parts of a property which are not damaged or could have been easily repaired, complicating your insurance claim. 

If you’re offered assistance from a friend or volunteer, ensure only damaged fabrics posing a health hazard (such as couches and carpet) are removed. For more information on how to approach the clean up, click here What to do when you return to your property after flood.

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.

Speak to your insurer or broker if you’re not sure. Flood has a standard definition and for domestic products is offered in four ways:

  • Standard inclusion
  • Standard inclusion, opt out at customer request
  • Not standard inclusion, opt in at customer request
  • Not standard inclusion

Most domestic products are purchased direct from insurers. Customers should review their policy documentation or contact their insurer to confirm the cover they have in place.

For commercial products, flood cover is not standard and has to be opted into. Most commercial products are purchased via intermediaries i.e. brokers. Customers should review their policy documentation or contact their Broker to confirm the cover they have in place.

If wet or damaged materials (such as carpet and couches) pose a health hazard; take a photograph, keep a sample and discard these items.  Keeping these items is a risk your health and can cause further damage to your home.  If you’re unsure if an item can be discarded, speak with your insurer.

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.

If many buildings have been destroyed, Local Councils will usually waive the tip fees which significantly reduces the cost of debris removal.  In some circumstances, the State Government may cover all or part of the cost for debris removal.

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.

If a house hasn’t been well maintained, it is at a much higher risk of being damaged by extreme weather. For this reason, when you apply for insurance, insurers require you to confirm your home is well maintained. If an insurer assesses your home and finds evidence it hasn’t been well maintained and that has contributed to the damage, they may reduce the amount they will pay you or require you to fix the maintenance issue before they repair your home. In some cases, the insurer may deny the claim.

Insurers constantly make an effort to support local trades during disaster recovery.  However, the primary focus will always be on ensuring homes are repaired quickly and to the best possible standard.  Relying solely on local builders will significantly delay the recovery process.  For this reason, insurers also use qualified and experienced builders from across Australia to ensure communities are back on their feet as soon as possible.

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.

Cars that have been damaged in a natural disaster have to be managed in different ways by your insurer, depending on the state of registration. In some instances if the car is not economical or safe to repair it will need to be written off and de-registered with the government.

In some instances where the vehicle is safe to drive and only has cosmetic damage, for example from hail or flooding, you may have the option of receiving a cash settlement and organising your own repairs.

It is important to note that it can be very difficult to insure a car that has been cosmetically damaged. Speak to your insurer about any special arrangements that may be in place for handling written off vehicles in your state.

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