Australia’s environment has always been heavily affected by heatwaves, droughts, and floods, and that has only exacerbated in recent years thanks to the impacts of climate change. One of the ways this impacts households is through extensive damage to your home and contents.
Whether you live in an inner-city dwelling or a rural property, you’ll likely want to know how financially protected you are from natural disasters. Many home insurance policies will include some natural disaster cover for events like earthquakes and bushfires, however the extent of your coverage can depend on a range of factors.
There is always a risk that you may be underinsured, so it’s worthwhile taking the time to check whether your home insurance policy will cover any and all natural disasters.
Does your home insurance cover natural disasters?
You might have insurance, but does your home insurance cover the natural disasters that could destroy your home and property? Not all do, and you might be surprised to learn that not everyone has adequate insurance cover on their home and contents.
Home insurance is designed to protect your home from a variety of threats, including natural disasters. These types of incidents are typically classified as 'catastrophe' claims, distinct from 'everyday' claims.
Some of the natural disasters that may be covered by a home insurance policy include:
Some home insurance policies cover accidental or sudden damage caused by storms, including water damage and structural damage. This may encompass windstorms, hail and lightning strikes, and events like burst storm pipes or stormwater flooding into your home, depending on your policy and provider.
However, many insurers will check to see if the damage was sudden as a result of a storm, or gradual and put down to poor maintenance on your part. If the provider determines it to be the latter, you may not be covered under insurance.
Speaking of water damage, flooding may be an event that your home insurance provider covers you for. While it is included in most policies as standard, there are exceptions, as the rate of flooding increases across Australia due to climate change.
In areas where flooding has a higher likelihood, homeowners may not be covered by insurance providers. Or, a significant premium may be charged for coverage.
Australia is a sunburnt country, and damage caused by bushfires is a common occurrence. Luckily, many policies include protection against fire damage. However, it’s important to check if your fire damage insurance policy also covers damage from smoke and ash, as some insurers may not cover these events.
Fire damage isn’t limited to just the exterior of your home, and can also destroy your contents as well. You may want to consider contents insurance that includes fire protection for your possessions as well.
Much like flood insurance, as the rate of bushfires have increased in Australia, some insurance providers may not offer your home coverage against bushfires, or instead charge a significant premium for it.
Most insurance policies will cover you for damage caused by an earthquake. Additionally, if the earthquake causes a landslide or tsunami, damage caused by these earth movements may also be covered. However, this can depend on the timeframe in which the events occur, such as within 72 hours of the earthquake.
Many insurance policies also cover 'impact damage,' which includes damage to building structures from falling trees and power poles. Unfortunately, the cost of removal, or cutting down trees that haven't inflicted damage to buildings, may not be included in the coverage.
How much could a natural disaster cost you?
Unfortunately, there is no one exact answer to the potential cost of a natural disaster on your home and/or contents. This could range anywhere from replacing a broken window to rebuilding your home from scratch. Additionally, the current cost of construction at the time of filing your claim will push up the price of any development.
If you have a Sum Insured amount in your home and/or contents insurance policy, you may want to ensure it will be enough to repair, rebuild, or replace your home and/or its contents in the event of a natural disaster.
For homeowners with Total Replacement cover, the cost of rebuilding your home and/or replacing your home’s contents after a natural disaster should be covered under your policy. Just keep in mind that this coverage may be more expensive than other alternatives.