NSW floods: Is it too late to claim on home insurance?

Posted: 25 November 2021 2:43 pm
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How to track the latest flood developments in NSW, and what to know about making an insurance claim.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) continues to issue severe weather and flood warnings across the country's east, including in western NSW. More than 100mm of rain fell in some areas of far west NSW overnight.

You can track the latest weather warnings on BoM's website here, NSW SES or by heading to Weatherzone. For emergency help in a flood or storm, call 132 500. For life-threatening emergencies, call 000.

How to prepare your home for flooding

The steps you could take to get your home ready for flooding include:

  • Securing any large items. If it's still safe to go outside, secure any loose items. Lock them away inside if you can (or move them to a higher, more secured position so there's less chance they could float and cause damage). If it's windy, you'll want to prevent any objects from turning into projectiles that could hurt someone or damage your home. Try to secure anything inside that could be toppled in a storm, such as loose furniture or bookshelves. Roll up any rugs.
  • Storing away your valuables. Use a fire- and water-proof safe or lockbox and store all important documents like passports, birth certificates, deeds, titles and identification documents.
  • Gathering an emergency kit. In serious situations, you may want to gather some belongings such as medicine and first-aid supplies, water, a torch, waterproof bags, batteries, candles, matches, canned foods, extra clothes, a fire extinguisher and some emergency cash. Also, make sure your mobile phone and other electronic devices are fully charged (do this before disconnecting any utilities).
  • Preparing your home insurance documents. To get ready for an insurance claim, you should take plenty of photos and videos of any damage to your home. You could also get a speedier claim if you can find receipts of any damaged contents, along with valuation reports and bank statements.

Can I make a home insurance claim for floods?

It depends on the specifics of your policy. Most insurers offer flood cover as optional with just a handful including it as standard. If it was an optional extra, you'd need to have paid an added premium for it to be included.

Your policy's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) will state which events you're covered for, and how terms are defined. If you're still in doubt, call your insurer. You should just need your name and address to do so, as they'll have electronic records.

What about storm damage?

If a storm has damaged your home, you'll generally be able to claim. Recently-published stats from AAMI show that storm damage was the most common type of home insurance claim for the insurer in 2020 – accounting for nearly a third (32.74%) of all claims. Water leakage was second with 16.74% – both are covered as standard in home insurance policies.

A common home cover exclusion to be aware of is "storm surges", which often affects people in coastal areas. This is where an increase in the sea level caused by a weather event pushes water onshore. Unfortunately, this isn't typically covered by insurance.

How long do I have to wait to claim on a new policy?

Typically, home insurance providers set a waiting period of 72 hours for any claims linked to floods or storms. You won't be able to claim during your policy's waiting period. Unfortunately, you won't be able to claim for these floods. Insurers will consider the recent weather to be a known event, and insurance only covers the unexpected.

How to make a claim on your home insurance

To make a claim on your home insurance, follow these 3 steps:

One

Secure your property

Start by doing a check of your home to ensure it's safe and secure – call 000 in an emergency.

According to its website, the time to call the SES is "if you have experienced damage from storms, wind, hail or a fallen tree and if a tree branch is threatening your property or a person's safety".

Once you've dealt with any urgent matters, you can also call your insurer. It may be able to send out an emergency tradesperson if required.

Two

Get photos and videos of the damage

Gather as much evidence of the damage as possible. Hunt down receipts and invoices for any damaged white goods or other items you want to claim for.

You could potentially speed up your claim if you could find copies of recent valuation reports and bank account records.

Three

Submit your claim

It's now time to submit your home insurance claim. You can usually do this online or by mail. It usually takes insurers up to 10 days to respond to your claim. Be aware that for events with multiple claims it may take an insurer longer to process yours.

Did you know? If you've experienced a power outage due to the wild weather, you may be able to claim against food spoilage. Earlier this year, Finder checked 11 brands and found that home insurance could reimburse you by as much as $2,000 if your food goes to waste after a power outage.

There have been a number of difficult times recently with natural disasters. To get protection from loss or damage in the future, compare your home insurance options.

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