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Guide to Handling Property Damage After a Weather Emergency

Weather Events
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When a storm, cyclone, or other weather emergency hits, there’s always the possibility of significant property damage, which can result in people having to evacuate their homes and businesses being forced to suspend operations.

Whether it’s your home or your business, being clear on what to do in the aftermath can help ensure you’re in the best possible position to access support, recover and get up and running again as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Check out the following top tips to help navigate the initial recovery phase if your property has been damaged.

For a link to share these tips with your clients, please click here.

1. Make Safe Repairs

If you remained at your property throughout the weather event, and relevant authorities have advised it is safe to leave your place of shelter, an important step is to attempt to limit further damage to your property, if feasible and safe to do so.

  • Emergency services - Depending on the situation in the first instance, you may need to contact emergency services to assist e.g. fire services or the SES.
  • Engaging Professionals – If safe to do so, engage professional services to perform temporary make safe repairs to the site(s) of damage – this may be electrical, or as simple as a tarpaulin over a damaged roof to limit further internal water damage. 

For guidance based on your specific situation and insurance coverage, contact your insurance broker or insurance company for specific. If you find yourself in trouble outside of business hours and need emergency repairs, the SES, or relevant after-hours tradespeople should be your go-to.

2. Make Sure it's Safe to Return

If you had to vacate the property, only return once advised by authorities that it is safe to do so. If damage has occurred, ensure the property has been deemed safe to enter. Likewise, if the property has been flooded or is wet, don’t turn on anything electrical until an electrician has cleared it. 

If you are conducting the clean-up yourself (and only do so if you are certain they don’t require professional attention), wear protective equipment.

3. Document Damage

Once it’s safe to investigate the full extent of damage to your property, undertake a thorough inspection and take photos before cleaning anything up – these will likely be needed for the insurance claims process. List the damage done to your property, ensuring you itemise the contents and building separately. 

Building damage can include:

  • Walls and ceiling
  • Flooring (excluding carpet/floating floors)
  • Fencing
  • Sheds
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Glass and signage

Contents damage can include:

  • Machinery
  • Electronics
  • Internal carpets/floating floors
  • Furniture
  • Blinds and light fittings

4. Contact your Insurance Broker

Your insurance broker is your advocate and on hand to offer advice and manage any claims on your behalf, so you can focus on everything else needed to get back on your feet.

On some occasions when damage is severe, a professional claims assessor may attend the property to evaluate and arrange for permanent repairs as soon as possible. Again, this will all be managed by your broker.

Separately, find out if the incident been declared a CAT (catastrophe declaration) by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). A CAT declaration escalates and prioritises the insurance industry's response to support policyholders affected by specific natural disasters. It means claims from affected policyholders are given priority by insurers.

5. Find out what additional support is out there

Both national and state governments are committed to ensuring communities are better equipped to recover following widespread severe weather events, and there may be funding accessible for your home and/or business to support this process. In Queensland for example, funding is made available through this web portal.

The potential effects of these types of events on families, communities and businesses can’t be underestimated. Doing everything possible to be prepared for all eventualities, and understanding the best course of action following damage due to severe weather can give you the best chance to mitigate against longer-term impact.

Also critical in the aftermath is making the most of all the resources and support available to you – your insurance broker is ready and experienced in dealing with these types of claims and will be on standby to give you the best support and advice possible.

To find your perfect policy, pair up with an iNeedCover Insurance Advisor.

This article provides information rather than financial product or other advice. The content of this article, including any information contained in it, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information, taking these matters into account, before you act on any information. In particular, you should review the product disclosure statement for any product that the information relates to it before acquiring the product.

Information is current as at the date the article is written as specified within it but is subject to change. Community Broker Network Pty Ltd t/as iNeedCover and Community Broker Network Authorised Brokers make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Various third parties have contributed to the production of this content. All information is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Community Broker Network Pty Ltd.

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