Australia has been known to be prone to natural calamities, such as flash floods and severe bushfires, and the resulting damage can be catastrophic. The thing about natural disasters is that no amount of preparedness can seem adequate, and despite all your best intentions and precautions, if you live in a part of Australia where bushfires are prone, some amount of damage is likely to be inevitable.

For these reasons, it is critical to check whether your home insurance policy will cover any and all natural disasters.

Does your home insurance cover natural disasters?

The last decade has seen Australia affected by heatwaves, droughts, and floods, and that has caused extensive damage to personal property. If you live in a disaster-prone area, you should be well aware of the need to protect your home against these events, and how to recover from them.

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.

Does my home insurance cover water damage?

Most home insurance policies cover accidental or sudden water damage caused due to storms or floods. However, many insurers will check to ascertain if the damage was sudden or gradual, and in the case of the latter, it could be put down to poor maintenance on your part and may not be covered under insurance.

At the time of purchasing your home insurance policy, read the water damage clause in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully. Each lender will have different guidelines about coverage and the terminology could differ, too.

Be sure to clarify all your concerns regarding possible kinds of water damage with the insurer before signing on the dotted line. Remember, at the time of making the claim, the onus is on you to prove beyond doubt that the water damage was sudden and from the natural disaster, and didn't incur over time. You will also need to negotiate with the insurer before carrying out any serious repair work.

Is fire damage covered by home insurance?

Luckily, many policies offered by Australian insurers include protection against fire damage. But it’s important to check if the policy also covers damage from smoke and ash from the fire, as they can cause serious damage, as well. If your policy doesn’t cover these, you might want to consider additional cover for these scenarios. 

Fire damage isn’t usually limited to just the exterior of your home, but can also spread to things inside. You'll want to ensure you have adequate fire protection for your possessions, too. Of course, you have the option of buying separate policies for your home and belongings, but it could work out better if you pick up a home and contents insurance policy, hitting two birds with the one stone.

Compare the cost of the two policies, and even check the cost of separate fire and smoke damage insurance before you make a final decision. If you live in a bushfire-prone area, you might have to pay a higher premium for your home insurance policy.

How can you file an insurance claim for damage due to bushfires?

If your home has been damaged because of a bushfire, you should file your fire damage insurance claim at your earliest convenience for faster processing, and focus on rebuilding or renovating your home after that.

Consult with your insurer before undertaking any repairs, and take as many photographs as possible of the damage, keeping all repair receipts handy to be submitted as proof at the time of making your claim.

I already have a home insurance policy. What do I do?

If you’ve already purchased a home and contents policy, go through the policy’s PDS with a fine-tooth comb to verify what kind of coverage it currently offers for you and your home. If you believe that you’re not adequately insured, you can look for another home insurer who will fulfil all your requirements, possibly at a lower cost, too.