“Catastrophic” hailstorm in Sydney creates influx of insurance claims
Insurance companies and repairers will have their hands full after a freak hailstorm batters much of Sydney.
For the past few days, residents all around Sydney have been dodging hail the size of tennis balls and are now waking up to the size of the damage.
The Insurance Council of Australia declared last night's hailstorm a "catastrophe" and expects the bill to reach more than $20 million dollars. More than 15,000 people have already submitted insurance claims and the numbers are expected to climb.
Rosie, 25, was one of the storm's many victims. She was Christmas shopping in Sydney's Paddington and had no idea a hailstorm was going on outside, much less making swiss cheese of her car. When she returned to her vehicle, she found huge dents all over the car's bonnet and roof. She was the lucky one – the car parked behind her had a smashed windscreen.
"If I didn't have comprehensive car insurance, there's no way I'd be able to afford the repairs," Rosie continued. "My Thursday could have been so much worse."
CTP won't protect you
Many unfortunate Sydney drivers would've been disappointed to learn that Compulsory Third Party Insurance won't cover damage to their cars.
If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, something as unpredictable as a hailstorm could leave you with a totaled car through no fault of your own. Unfortunately, without the right level of car insurance, no one is going to swoop in and save the day.
If you want to be covered for damage to your car due to natural events like a hailstorm, you need comprehensive car insurance. With comprehensive, you're covered against natural events, uninsured drivers, hit-and-runs and even accidents you cause.
Homeowners also reporting heavy damage
Drivers aren't the only ones contending with hail damage. Thousands of homes were left without power as the storm ripped through Sydney.
Luckily for homeowners with building insurance, most policies will automatically protect you from hail. However, not all will protect you from another natural event that commonly accompanies hail: flooding.
Here are some tips to make the most of your home insurance so you're not hung out to dry after a storm like last night's:
- Make sure you insure your building for its full value and update your cover every year to account for any rise in value. While a hailstorm is unlikely to cause total destruction to your home, other natural events like fire and flood could wreak significant havoc, so you want to have enough cover to replace everything if the worst happens.
- If you live in a flood zone, you'll want to be 100% sure your insurance includes flood cover. This is an optional feature in many policies meaning many people with home insurance aren't protected against floods.
- Even if you don't live in a flood zone, you could still experience water damage due to rainwater runoff, so if you decide against flood cover, make sure you're still protected against runoff.
- Make sure your gutters and drainpipes are clear. If you experience water damage and the insurer can point to blocked gutters as the cause, you might not be able to claim.
- After every storm, make sure you repair any damage, no matter how small. Future claims could be denied if you fail to maintain your property.
- You may want to consider contents insurance, which will cover many of the personal belongings that you keep in your yard and on your patio.
As with any insurance, it's too late to get cover after the damage is done. So if you haven't already, you might want to add reviewing your insurance to your New Year's resolutions.