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Do you need bushfire insurance in addition to regular home insurance?

Mark Bristow avatar
Mark Bristow
- 3 min read
Do you need bushfire insurance in addition to regular home insurance?

If you already have home insurance, you may already be covered for fire damage to your property, so you may not need to take out separate bushfire insurance. But if you live in an area with a higher-than-average bushfire risk, that could push up the cost of your insurance premiums.

Is your area at higher risk of fire?

Living in a bush or regional area has its perks, but the potentially higher cost of insurance may not be one of them. Because these areas are generally considered to be at higher risk of bushfires, you may expect your home insurance premiums to be higher than in some other areas. With some areas of Australia having suffered devastating fires and other natural disasters in the recent past, parts of the country are at risk of becoming “uninsurable”.

A property’s risk of bushfire can be summarised by its Bushfire Attack Level (BAL). According to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) there are six BALs:

Bushfire Attack Level

 BAL

Description of risk 

BAL – LOWLowest risk from a potential fire .
BAL – 12.5Risk is primarily from potential embers during a fire.
BAL – 19Moderate risk, particularly from embers and burning debris.
BAL – 29High risk, particularly from embers, debris and heat.
BAL – 40Very high risk. Likely to be impacted by embers, debris, heat and potentially flames.
BAL – FZExtreme risk. Directly exposed to the flames of a potential fire front.

How to check that you’re covered for bushfires

Looking at your home insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) should tell you what kind of fire coverage your home has. If you don’t have easy access to your insurance documents, you could also consider calling your insurer to request a copy.

Is it actually “fire” damage?

Some insurers define “fire” damage specifically as damage caused by flames. If your home is damaged by soot, ash, or heat from a bushfire, there’s a chance the insurer may not cover this damage. Be sure to check the PDS to work out what’s covered and what isn’t.

You may want to double-check that the Sum Insured amount for your home and/or contents insurance policy will be enough to repair, rebuild, or replace your home and/or its contents in the event of a fire. Some insurers may offer an optional “Safety Net” feature, intended to help protect you from insurance costs blowing out. By paying a higher premium, you may be able to extend your Sum Insured amount by up to 30% if necessary. 

Keep in mind that higher construction costs could push up the price of a home rebuild. Additionally, fire-proofing regulations for homes located in bushfire-prone areas can further increase construction costs, especially for homes located in an area with a high BAL.

If you have Total Replacement cover or the equivalent in your home and/or contents insurance policy, then the cost of rebuilding your home and/or replacing your home’s contents after a bushfire should be covered under your policy. Of course, this coverage may be more expensive than other alternatives. 

If you’re unsatisfied with your home’s current level of fire insurance, you could consider comparing alternative options from other insurers. Remember to carefully compare both the cost and the coverage to help ensure you get the most value from your home and contents insurance policy.

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Product database updated 16 Jun, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Peter Terlato before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.