With the tragic events last summer, it became apparent that many homes are underinsured against bushfires. This is why it is fundamental at every renewal to assess your cover and ensure that it meets your needs and expectations.
Do I need bushfire cover?
If you’re reading this from your inner-city apartment you’re unlikely to be directly affected by the fires themselves however you may still be at risk of damage from smoke, which you can claim if you’ve opted for Accidental Damage cover. That being said, as fires are occurring in more areas than they have done previously, it’s worth talking to your insurer to make sure you know whether the risk in your area has increased or not. Gusty wind blowing in the wrong direction can also carry flames from the bush quite far, so being prepared with a fire escape plan for unpredictable weather conditions is your safest option.
If your property is hugged by dry bushland, then it’s likely you live in a fire prone area and will want to carefully assess your options. If your local area is densely forested or steep, this can increase your fire risk too, as flames are more unpredictable and difficult to fight than they are on flat ground with minimal vegetation.
On the other hand, if you live in a suburban area your fire danger risk may not be as obvious, which is why it’s a good idea to call your local council and ask whether you are situated in a confirmed bushfire-prone area. If you are, they can help you get your home’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessed, you can use an online calculator or you can contact a bushfire consultant on the Fire Protection Association Australia website.
How does my current insurance stack up?
Now you’ve weighed the risks, it’s time to make certain that your insurance has your back. What type of cover you have, and to what extent, will determine whether the losses you may experience from a fire are fully or partly recoverable. Since rebuilding costs go up every year due to inflation, it’s possible that you may need a higher level of cover than you did when you first took out insurance. If you’re underinsured, you may not get enough money back from your insurer to completely replace your home and contents. Continuously keeping up to date on this is therefore crucial in determining your cover. While you’re making these decisions, it may be also worth looking into optional covers that offer protection for things not covered by standard insurance such as Personal Effects, Accidental Damage and Flood Cover.
If you have Virgin Home and Contents Insurance, you’re covered for bushfires up to your insured sum. This means that if either your property or belongings are damaged, these losses can be reclaimed – which is very valuable if you know you’re in a fire zone. If you have Virgin Home Building Insurance your property will be covered in the event of a fire but your belongings/contents won’t be protected, and vice versa with Virgin Contents Insurance.
What else can I do to be prepared?
Protecting your home against fire related financial loss early is a wise move, as insurers won’t cover any damage which happens 24-72 hours after applying for insurance. When you purchase an insurance policy, taking pictures of your valuables and house can make the process of lodging for a claim go much more smoothly. It definitely pays to take precautions throughout the year to minimise your bushfire risk. These include keeping your lawn trimmed, your gutters cleared of leaves and debris, cutting overhanging trees and keeping flammable materials (such as wood piles) covered and away from the house.
Above all, being prepared and staying informed go a long way in the event of an unexpected natural disaster. If you’re looking to protect your home, find out how we can help give you peace of mind by insuring the things you value.
Virgin Money Australia has not considered your objectives, financial situation or needs in preparing this advice. Before acting on any advice please consider the appropriateness of the advice for you, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.