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Flood-hit Australians can claim more from their home insurance than they realise


Two insurance experts have urged Australians to look at their policies more closely, so they can get the most from their claim.

With the record-breaking rainfall finally behind us, many residents on Australia's east coast will be starting the clean-up process and lodging home insurance claims.

However, insurance experts are now urging Australians to take the time to read their insurance documents carefully, or risk missing many claimable expenses.

"If you haven't done so previously, have a close review of your policy wording," said Reuben Rose, a claims specialist at MSM Loss Management.

"There may be elements and inclusions you weren't aware of and there are providers who will explain any confusing components you may have questions about."

Claim for interim costs

If you had to evacuate your home, you may be able to claim expenses from your home or contents insurance policy, so don't forget to include them.

"If you've incurred interim costs, it's important to retain all purchase information - receipts, credit card transactions, etc - for emergency purchases such as clothing, food, hotels, vehicle hire, even small items such as charging cables," said Rose.

"Having some form of formal record is absolutely critical. It's far easier to submit it all and see what gets rejected, than it is to submit separately and potentially miss a reimbursement."

Remember the little things

Don Shields has worked in the insurance industry for almost 40 years and runs his own company, Geelong Insurance Brokers. He said that it's all too common for customers to overlook items they can claim.

"We often have to remind clients with prompts like; 'What about linen? What about cutlery?' It's the small things that are often overlooked which, in themselves, are not expensive but when added up can be a substantial amount."

Depending on your policy, everything from lightbulbs and batteries through to clothing and kids toys could be covered. You may even be able to claim for the spoiled food if your freezer stopped working.

Don't give up if you don't have flood cover

If you opted not to include flood cover in your home insurance policy, things might seem a little bleak. But you might not be out of options just yet.

"If your policy has a flood exclusion, that doesn't mean the claim is impossible," said Rose, who explained that some water damage may be due to water run-off or inundated stormwater drains.

"There are often ways to support this, for example, the level of debris on identified water peak marks on external walls, staining and penetration marks on ceilings, and so forth."

Ask for advice

If you're about to lodge a major insurance claim, it's probably going to be confusing and stressful. The everyday Aussie isn't an insurance expert and there will be things you don't understand or have never come across, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

Don Shields is the managing director of Geelong Insurance Brokers. He told Finder that brokers will often share their expertise with people in need, even if they're not a client.

"I'd encourage people to ask for assistance or a second opinion," he said. "Whilst they may have bought insurance directly from an insurer, and a broker won't be able to formally assist with the claim, often they will be prepared to point the client in the right direction."

Lodge again if you have to

If you settle your claim and then find something you forgot to claim for six weeks later, get back in touch with your insurer to see if your claim can be reopened.

"If you discover a component you haven't yet included in your claim, you can absolutely include it subsequently," said Rose. "If a claim is finalised by an insurer and you discover a box of receipts you've failed to lodge two months later, your insurer will be able to reopen your claim and respond to those costs."

Finally, don't panic

It's easy enough for us to say, but try not to panic when lodging an insurance claim. If you start to feel overwhelmed, the government has made it easy to access telehealth for further support.

The Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance can also help anyone who has suffered a significant loss. It provides a one-off payment to eligible Australians affected by storms and floods. You can find more information on the Disaster Assist website.

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