Commissioner's blog: Post disaster insurance tips
Now that Cyclone Seroja has come and gone, many regional Western Australians will be assessing the damage and counting the cost of the destruction left in its wake.
One of the first steps to be taken if your property has been damaged in a natural disaster like this is to check what your insurance policy covers for storms and floods.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s MoneySmart service recommends dealing directly with your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial advisor for help with making a claim. Should you need emergency accommodation, your insurer may also be able to assist.
You may be asked to record or photograph damage of your property and to make a list of all the damage, including as much detail as possible.
Many policies require you to take reasonable steps to minimise the loss — for example, by placing a tarp over a broken roof to prevent further water damage, or moving undamaged items to a safe and secure place.
It’s important to check with your insurer before making any repairs to your property, as they may need to authorise repairs and tradespeople before they happen.
Fake tradies and other types of scammers often target disaster affected areas, offering cheap, cash-only repairs to roofs, driveways and fences, so beware those who come to your door unannounced. Instead ask relatives, friends or social media connections for recommendations, get several quotes and sight previous work plus proof of any credential claims, such as evidence of an industry association membership.
We also have factsheets on the rights and responsibilities of renters when there’s damage at a rental home, plus we can provide you advice on what to do if a home you are in a contract to buy was damaged during wild weather - email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54.
Should you encounter difficulties relating to insurance claims, which you are unable to resolve directly with your insurer, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) – www.afca.org.au. If you’ve lost your insurance details, the Insurance Hotline can help on 1800 734 621.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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