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Sydney braces for more wet weather: is your home insurance ready?

Sydney braces for more wet weather: is your home insurance ready?

A ‘month’s worth of rain’ is due to hit Sydney in the next five days. And with more extreme weather events expected in the future thanks to climate change, now may be the time to review your home and contents insurance coverage.

Between the damages caused by flooding and storm surges, to the rampant outbreaks of mould, Sydneysiders have had to endure a lot in 2022 because of wet weather events. In fact, this year’s floods in New South Wales and Queensland has meant that insurance analysts now predict home insurance premiums will be at least 10% higher.

After a cold and rainy start to the year, the La Nina event has finally come to an end. But with more wet weather predicted to hit the east coast, it’s worth exploring whether your home insurance policy is ready for more bad weather.

What does home insurance cover in the event of bad weather?

The home insurance policy you choose may cover a range of adverse events, and what it also excludes may depend on the policy you choose. Generally speaking, a home insurance policy should cover your entire property, including permanent structures, like garages and in-ground pools.

The types of natural events causing loss or damage to your property that may be covered by home insurance includes:

  • Earthquakes
  • Fallen trees
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Lightning strikes
  • Rainwater, including excess run off and overflow
  • Storms

Unfortunately, not all policies will cover loss or damage caused by flood or storm surge. Therefore, it’s crucial you check what exactly you are covered for by your insurance policy, and what you aren’t.

Keep in mind that if you live in a storm or flood-prone area, such as on Northern Queensland floodplains, you may either pay considerably more for your premiums, or find that your insurer will not offer coverage for your property. In some areas, residential premiums are so unreasonably expensive, it’s not possible for everyday Australians to afford them, with some premium prices hitting around $30,000.

How do I check what is covered in my home insurance policy?

If it’s been a while since you signed up to your home insurance policy, it’s safe to assume you may not be familiar with what is covered. You may have also committed to one of the more basic home insurance policies when you purchased your home as it can be an expensive upfront cost when paid alongside stamp duty, Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, and agent fees.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to grab a copy of your insurance policy and review the product disclosure statement (PDS). You may find your latest policy coverage in your emails, or you can hop online with your provider to review your own account.

If you’re having issues finding more detailed information, it may be worth calling a customer representative from your insurance provider and checking with them directly as to what is covered in terms of storms and wet weather.

And while there may not necessarily be a cap on the amount of claims you can make, it’s worth reviewing what type of home insurance you have as this can play a role on how much the insurer gives you for a claim.

  • Sum-insured cover is where the insurer makes a (typically modest) an estimate of what it could cost to rebuild your home if it was destroyed. If rainwater damages a feature of your property, you may only get back the lower-cost estimate of what it would take to repair or replace the damaged feature.
  • Total replacement cover is where an insurer may offer what it would cost to restore the property to the same standard.

It may be worth checking out ASIC MoneySmart’s page on covering the cost of rebuilding your house, including how to calculate how much you should seek coverage for.

Do I need to upgrade my home insurance?

This year’s rainfall in New South Wales alone has been unprecedented. While you cannot predict the future, it may be worth assuming that more storm events can occur if the impacts of climate change aren’t lessened.

Further, while one heavy rain event can cause damage to property and roads, multiple over one year is bound to exacerbate existing issues. If your property is still reeling from the last extended period of rain, for example if you’re still battling with mould, more wet weather is not going to help.

Unfortunately, when homeowners make more claims on their insurance this can result in losing a no-claims discount they previously held. It can even result in an increase to your premiums if your property appears to be at greater risk of these adverse events.

In fact, this year’s floods in New South Wales and Queensland has meant that insurance analysts now predict home insurance premiums will be at least 10% higher. So, whether you feel you’re now under-insured or want to shop around for the best policy for your needs and budget, it may be worth comparing your options today.

RateCity’s home insurance comparison table allows you to compare home and/or content insurance policies side by side, so you can easily view any discounts available, as well as the benefits features of said policy.

Don’t set and forget your home insurance, especially with wild weather on the horizon. Consider reviewing your current policy and comparing your options.

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

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