Storms, floods & fires
Natural disasters and your home
Having your home damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster is
devastating. Here are some tips that may help you find out if your
home is in a natural disaster prone area, and work out if you have
adequate insurance cover for many types of natural disasters.
Get adequate insurance for natural
There have been many serious floods, fires, cyclones and storms
in Australia over the last decade and many people have found out
too late that they did not have enough insurance cover on their
home and contents. This can be extremely costly and stressful, if
you lose your home.
Wherever you live, your home and contents insurance cover should
be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home and replacing
It is estimated that 13% of homes that required reconstruction
or significant repair after the 2009 Victorian bushfires were not
insured. See the Royal Commission's report
on the Victorian bushfires and ASIC's reports on Getting home insurance right: A report on
home building underinsurance and Making home insurance better.
Increasing your insurance cover may not cost very much, and if
you shop around you may even be able to get more cover for a lower
Find out if you live in a
To find out if you are in a natural disaster-prone area, you can
You can ask them about flood mapping and the Bushfire Attack
Level (BAL) of your home to get a better understanding of your risk
of flood and bushfires.
You can also ask your council whether your house has been built
to natural disaster standards (e.g. cyclone standard).
Video: Preparing for the bushfire season
Video about preparing for bushfire
Have you prepared for the bushfire season? This video from the
Know Risk website provides some tips on how to keep your home and
family safe during the summer months.
Check if your
insurance covers you for natural disasters
If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, adequate home and contents
insurance is essential.
Your insurance policy will state what disasters you are covered
for. Review your policy carefully. Some people have found out after
a natural disaster that the event was not covered by their policy
and they have had to pay repair or replacement costs
Flood cover is not included in all home and contents insurance
policies, so if you require flood cover, check whether your policy
provides it and confirm exactly how much cover is offered. Even
where flood cover is offered, loss or damage to some parts of your
property may not be covered (for example, retaining walls, gravel
driveways, pontoons, jetties or bridges) so check your policy
Check exclusions for storms, cyclones, floods and
If you have home and contents insurance, check whether you are
covered for natural disasters such as storms, cyclones, floods,
bushfires and flash floods. Make sure you understand what is
covered, and any exclusions and conditions that apply. You can ask
your insurer questions if you are unsure.
If you are not happy with your current level of cover, talk to
your insurer about what they can offer. You can also speak to other
insurers to see if you can find a policy that's better suited to
your needs. Always ask potential insurers lots of questions.
Check if you have
enough insurance cover to rebuild
If you don't have the right amount of cover to rebuild your home
after an event, you are underinsured.
Consider a total replacement policy
If you choose a total replacement policy, you are less likely to
be underinsured. With this type of policy, the insurer can agree to
repair or rebuild the home to the same size and standard as the
Consider a sum-insured policy with a 'safety net'
Some sum-insured policies provide a 'safety net' on top of the
amount you are insured for. This means if the costs to repair,
rebuild or replace your home and contents are more than the
sum-insured amount, you may be entitled to extra cover up to the
limit of the safety net.
Make sure you read the terms and conditions that apply to this
type of policy carefully as cover can differ.
Some insurers have calculators on their websites that may help
you work out the sum-insured amount for your home and contents. We
suggest you use at least three calculators from different insurers
to compare sum-insured policies because the results can differ.
Insure it, it's worth it guide from Good Shepherd Microfinance
can help you estimate the value of your belongings to get the right
level of contents insurance.
Case study: Johnny has a sum-insured policy with a 'safety
Johnny's house was insured for $500,000 when it
was destroyed by a bushfire.
Johnny had to rebuild, and the new house had to
meet current building codes to better protect it from
bushfires. This would cost more than the market value of the old
Because of higher building costs, it will cost Johnny $600,000
to rebuild, which is more than the sum-insured on his policy.
Johnny's policy provides a safety net of up to 25% of the
sum-insured, so rebuild costs of up to $625,000 will be covered.
Johnny is relieved that the building costs will be covered by his
Home insurance advice for
North Queensland residents
The Australian Government has a website to help North Queensland
residents compare home insurance policies. The North Queensland home
insurance website lists policy features and indicative premiums
based on your suburb or postcode.
What to do after a natural disaster
For steps and help to manage after a disaster, see what to do after a
Australia is a great place to live but it is
also a harsh environment. Taking some time to do your insurance
homework will help ensure maximum protection for your home.
Last updated: 08 Jan 2020