While the promise of warmer weather spells days at the beach and backyard BBQs, spring and summer can sadly also bring bushfires. Those in bushfire-prone areas can get ahead of the risks by putting a protection plan in place for your property and assets.
Why do we get bushfires?
Despite a wet winter, the risk of bushfires is extremely high this spring and summer right around Australia. Ironically, this is partly due to all that wet weather, and the start of another El Nino.
More rain means more vegetation growth. As temperatures soar and the abundance of grass and crops dry out, the risk of bushfires increase.
Tip: If your property is within a bushfire prone area, you can reduce risk by keeping grass and vegetation cut short, clearing gutters of leaves, and removing any flammable chemicals or materials from the property.
Have a safety and evacuation plan
If you live or run a business in a bushfire prone area, you should already have an evacuation plan in place, but it’s always worth updating and refreshing protocols as we head into the riskier fire season.
In the event a bushfire occurs, make sure everyone knows who is in charge (this can be via a different coloured vest or hard hat and fire evacuation drills), when to leave and what to take. Keep critical business or personal documents in a fire-resistant safe and backup digital copies to the cloud, so you can concentrate on the plan to get everyone to safety.
Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute. Review, practice and communicate these plans throughout the year and involve everyone who lives at your property, or if a business, all who work on-site. This can even include subcontractors who visit your site.
Early risk reduction and preparation
If you or your business are ever affected by bushfires, you may need to make an insurance claim, and there are steps you can take now to make that process easier.
Keeping an inventory of assets is key. A written list (stored somewhere off-site), a cloud-hosted digital list which can be access remotely, date-stamped photographs, or a video recording of each room, are all good ways to provide evidence.
Businesses rely on data to operate, so don’t forget to safeguard your documents and key information systems from potential fire damage. The best way to do this is by having digital records of all data, which is backed up and stored in the cloud. Remember to install regular updates and backup reminders, so your files are up-to-date. Don’t forget to keep important physical documents in a fire-resistant safe.
Tip: For businesses – keeping a safe record of your data won’t just make your life easier should your operations be disrupted. It will help keep clients and customers happy as you’ll be able to provide a quick return to daily operations.
Watch out for common policy exclusions
Having insurance to protect your business and property in case of bushfire is a great first step. But it’s important to make sure you have the right kind of cover, and you are adequately protected.
Read your PDS or policy wording. This outlines what is covered and what is excluded from your insurance protection.
Comparing your policy with others can also help, however this can be a time-consuming and often complex process. This is where an insurance broker can guide you. As specialists, an insurance broker can navigate the ins and outs of insurance policy wordings, and provide advice to help ensure you have the right coverage to suit your business or personal insurance needs.
Tip: If you’re feeling unsure or overwhelmed, don’t put it in the ‘too hard basket’ and leave yourself open to the risk of large losses. Connect with an iNeedCover Insurance Broker to check your policy coverage, and make sure you are appropriately protected in line with your expectations.
Common insurance traps to avoid
Usually, insurance for damage caused by fire will only apply when there are actual flames, meaning you may not be covered for any heat, soot, smoke or ash damage. This is common, however some policies can be specifically tailored to avoid the extent of this exclusion.
There is usually a waiting period (48 – 72 hours) after the policy commences before cover is available in respect of bushfires. This means you shouldn’t wait until the bushfire is coming over the hill before taking out quality insurance cover.
Tip: The cost of building materials and development rise over time, so you need to make sure your property is insured for what it would cost to rebuild today, not what it was worth when you bought it. This online calculator for home and contents can help you get the maths right.
The single greatest protection
Consulting an insurance broker may be the single most important investment you can make in ensuring adequate protection for your home or business this bushfire season.
Policies can be tricky to understand and time-consuming to read through, but it’s imperative to make sure you are properly covered as we approach what can be a truly devastating period for people, homes and businesses.
We are here to guide you.
If you have questions or concerns relating to what kind of cover you should have, if your current policy is fully protecting you as intended, or how to manage claims in a crisis, pair up with an iNeedCover Insurance Broker.
To ensure your property and assets are protected with suitable insurance cover, pair up with an iNeedCover Broker.
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