Depending on which part of Australia you live in, you may be worried about the danger bushfires pose to your home and possessions. Thankfully, fire damage is usually included in the home insurance policy most Australian insurers offer. It’s a good idea to check if the insurance policy you’re interested in includes coverage for any damage to your home caused by the smoke or ash generated by a fire. You may need to sign up for extra coverage if these are either not included or are inadequately covered. If you do live in a bushfire-prone area such as parts of Northern Australia or New South Wales your home insurance policy may cost you more.
It is likely that the damage from a fire will affect not just the exterior of your home but also the things inside, which makes it necessary for you to ensure your possessions are insured against fire damage. While you can opt for separate insurance policies for your home and your belongs, you may find it cheaper to buy a home and contents insurance policy. You can compare the cost of the two policies, and even compare with the cost of standalone fire and smoke damage insurance before you make your decision.
Do home insurance policies always include bushfire damage?
As a homeowner, ensuring that your home is protected against bushfire damage is an important consideration for financial reasons as well. Insurers are also clued in on the cost of repairing or rebuilding necessary after a bushfire and will invariably offer you a policy that includes coverage for bushfire-related damage. Ideally, you should check the kind of damage bushfires have caused in your area in the past to get an idea of the cost of the damage. You can get home insurance policy quotes by providing your postcode; compare the different policies to see which one offers the most adequate coverage for bushfire damage.
Consider doing some research on your home’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Rating, which uses a scale to determine the risk of your property’s exposure to damage from the embers, heat, and flames from a bushfire. The BAL rating is determined by your local council and varies from BAL LOW, which indicates insignificant risk, to BAL FZ, which indicates that your property may be exposed to the fire front in addition to embers and heat. Depending on the rating, you may be required to pay a much higher insurance premium.
How can you file a claim for fire damage insurance?
If your home is affected by a bushfire, you should file your fire damage insurance claim as soon as possible in order to speed up the processing and, subsequently, the rebuilding or renovation. You will likely need to consult your insurer before you start with any repairs, even those needed to avoid additional fire damage. You should consider taking photographs and collecting any repair receipts as these can be submitted as evidence along with your insurance provider’s fire and smoke damage insurance claims form. You may also need to submit a list itemising the damage caused to your home.
On receiving your claim, your insurance provider will ask an insurance adjuster to visit your home and verify the damage caused. This can involve gathering further information including repair or rebuilding quotes from building contractors who are part of the insurer’s network. The adjuster may also help organise temporary repairs as necessary, and also initiate the claim calculation. If you are not satisfied with the claim amount offered by the adjuster, you can choose to corroborate their findings by asking a public adjuster to evaluate the damage and the cost of necessary repairs and rebuilding.
You will likely need to negotiate your claim with your home insurance provider, especially in case the public adjuster’s evaluation differs from that prepared by the insurer’s adjuster. Through this negotiation, you can confirm with the insurer the amount they’ll pay you depending on whether your insurance policy covers the total replacement cost of your home or an insured sum. Based on this negotiation, your insurer will either pay you a cash settlement or refer you to one of their network contractors for the repairs or rebuilding work. You may be able to get the work done by your preferred contractor if you’ve added this optional coverage to your home insurance policy.