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Tips for Claiming Insurance after Flood

May 22, 2015

The storms that devastated Sydney and Queensland recently will have an enormous impact on the communities involved. In NSW, 11 people were rescued from the floods, more than 1,000 calls for assistance were placed and 4 lives were lost. In Queensland 3 cars were washed away in the flood waters, which tragically claimed the lives of 6 people.

When natural disasters like this occur, there’s often a rush to put a figure on the damage. In this case, some insurers estimate the damage will exceed $1.2 billion, while others believe it to be well over the $2 billion mark.

In real terms, residents with damaged homes tend to want one of two solutions – rebuild their damaged home or be bought out. Of course, the challenges are far greater than simply rebuilding or selling up.

To make life just a little easier, we’ve put together our top tips for navigating an insurance claim after a flood or natural disaster.

What do I do if my home has been flooded?

  • Contact your insurer and lodge your claim straight away.
  • The insurer will send out an assessor to report on the extent of the damage to your property. Unfortunately, your insurer may be flat out with similar calls from other people affected by the floods. As such, there may be a delay getting to your claim.
  • If your home in uninhabitable, tell the insurer right away. Ask if they can come to some kind of arrangement while your insurance claim is being handled.
  • Temporary accommodation is included in most building policies, but the benefit only applies if and when a claim is passed.
  • Your insurer may request that you cover the cost of temporary accommodation. A ‘reasonable amount’ of your temporary accommodation costs will then be reimbursed to you if your claim is accepted.
  • If mortgage repayments or other expenses make it difficult for you to pay for temporary accommodation, you may like to contact your lender and explain the severe situation you are in. Lenders will often stop repayments for a period of 3 months to give you some breathing room.
  • If you’re still having trouble finding accommodation, we recommend calling a local relief centre. Temporary accommodation can be difficult to find when large areas are hit, so we encourage you to exhaust every possible option.

What if I am not covered for flood damage?

If your insurance company did not clearly tell you that you weren’t covered for flood damage, you may have some kind of legal recourse. Of course, this will depend on the circumstances of your situation.

If you can, collate brief details about the discussions you have had with your insurance company at the time you opened the policy.

Bring this information to the Financial Ombudsman Service of Australia and ask for advice.

How can the Financial Ombudsman Help?

They independently review and resolve issues between consumers and financial service providers. This service is free of charge to the public, because its members fund it. The Financial Ombudsman is an alternative to court proceedings. For more information on the Financial Ombudsman, head here.

What if my claim is taking a long time?

Resources tend to be stretched when a flood or natural disaster affects a large number of people. As a result, insurance companies will prioritise the claims they deem to be most urgent.

If you feel your insurer is not giving your claim the attention it deserves, then contact them and request they resolve the issue. If this doesn’t happen consider contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service for advice or support.

For more information about making an insurance claim after a natural disaster contact Trident Insurance Group.

Legal Advice Disclaimer:

This information is general in nature. Insurance brokers do not provide legal advice. Clients who require legal advice should seek the services of a qualified legal professional.

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