At the time of writing, more than 1,500 Australian homes have been scorched away by the devastating Australian bushfires ravaging several states across Australia.
Insurers will be footing a hefty bill to the tune of $375 million, according to figures by the Insurance Council of Australia, with more than 5,850 claims already filed.
Related story: Cost of bushfire damage to climb to $431 million
Related story: Local businesses, economies burnt by Australian bushfires
If you’ve lost your home or property from the bushfires, the ICA has a guide on how to file an insurance claim in the event of a disaster.
1. Minimise your losses
You’ll need to take reasonable steps to prevent further loss to your property, said the ICA.
“This may include temporary repairs and moving possessions or stock from a damaged part of a property to an undamaged room. Damaged or soiled items that might be a health hazard can be removed to a safe area.”
After photographing soft-fabric items like carpet and couches, you can dispose of them if they pose a health risk. If you’re unsure, check with your insurer, and let them know immediately if you notice any mould growth.
2. Get in touch with your insurer
Lodge the claim with your insurer through the phone or online.
Lost your policy documents? Your insurer should have an electronic copy and should be able to identify you.
3. Make a list of damaged or lost items
Take stock and assess the extent of the damage. It might be difficult to keep track of everything lost, but a list will help your insurer or broker process a claim more quickly, said the ICA, and don’t be surprised if you find you need to work on a more detailed list.
The ICA recommends taking lots of photographs and video to help the assessor with your claim.
4. Get assessed
Most insurance claims will be followed by a visit from an assessor or builder that has been assigned by your insurer. Their job will be to examine the loss, its value and circumstances, then report back to the insurer who will then make a decision on the claim.
5. Get a quote
Your insurer will organise for building professionals to scope and quote the repair work. If this isn’t complete, let your insurer know of missing items, said ICA.
“A Scope of Works can be varied throughout the rebuild if further damage is identified later on. Under some policies, you may be asked to secure your own quotes from tradespeople for the insurer to consider.”
6. Repairs can begin
After quotes and Scope of Works have been settled upon, start dates for repairs can be agreed on. But don’t forget: insurers will prioritise those most in need, so if your property hasn’t been as severely damaged as others, there will be a waiting line.
Either yourself or the insurer will be managing the repair, depending on the circumstances.
Are you managing the repair yourself? Consider the risks and obligations.
“Your insurer will often pay you the amount its own builder could complete the work for, not what your builder charges you,” said ICA.
If you have any further questions about your claim, your insurer or broker is your first port of call. If you have other questions, get in touch with the industry hotline on 1800 734 621.
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