Flood in Lismore CBD in 1954.
Flood in Lismore CBD in 1954.

Is your insurance policy as stormproof as your gutters?

IS your home ready for the storm season? Is your insurance policy as stormproof as your gutters?

After the weekend's storms, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared a catastrophe in southeast Queensland.

By 2pm, Sunday November 1, insurers had received more than 5000 claims, with insured losses estimated at $60 million.

About 40 per cent of claims were for damage to houses - mainly to roofs, skylights and solar panels, and interior damage to a significant proportion of homes.

The ICA's spokeswoman Lisa Kable said La Niña is expected to intensify the number of storm events in the area this season.

"Now that we have seen what can happen in a hailstorm, and this storm activity is forecast with La Niña upon us, the best thing people can do is follow some basic tips," she said.

Byron Bay flooded after heavy rain saw streets inundated last February.
Byron Bay flooded after heavy rain saw streets inundated last February.


1. Read your policy: Find out what is included and what is not.

"You want to make sure that you are covered for flood, because most insurers regards rainwater run-off as part of storm cover. Some insurers won't cover rainwater run-off or storm if the customer hasn't chosen flood cover," Ms Kable said.

"If you are purchasing or have a policy, check the Product Disclosure Statement, it's a really important document to read. You don't want the shock of realising you didn't read the conditions because you opted for a cheaper policy."


2. Speak to your insurer:

"If you are unsure if your cover is correct, call your insurer, and get the to walk you though your actual policy," the spokeswoman said.

"The insurer is the best person to tell you if you will have cover under the policy.

The spokeswoman said those insuring a property that will be holiday let will be different to those using it as their residence.

"Ask a thousand questions, pertinent to your specific needs, to find out who will offer you the best cover, do you need landlord insurance or home insurance that allows for commercial rental?" she said.


Read more>> Our top 5 most storm impacted towns and suburbs revealed


3. Know the property:

"It pays sometimes to get a builder and find out how much would it cost you to replace your home, so you can start working from that estimation," the ICA spokeswoman said.

"We have a building and content calculators where you can enter your address and it will take you down to the details of your property, and it's a good test to see if people have ben accurate with their level of insurance."

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4. Ensure you are not underinsured:

"Although this is not pertinent to storms, but in areas that could be hit by bushfires, if you lose your entire property, when you go to rebuild it, you have to be able to afford it, so if you insure for $400,000, for instance, but the builder says it will cost $650,000 because the area requires specific building codes to protect it from future fires," Ms Kable said.

"The cost of debris removal in some areas can also make a big difference on the final rebuilding costs."


5. What about your car?

Around 60 per cent of claims after a storm are motor vehicle-related. Only comprehensive insurance will cover damages to your car after a storm.


Byron Bay after heavy rain last February.
Byron Bay after heavy rain last February.



Bonus: How to be prepared for a storm

You can take practical steps to help prepare for storms:

• Move your car under cover or away from trees

• Remove dead or rotting trees, and trim branches that overhang the property (council permit may be required)

• Secure all loose items outside your property

• Check that guttering and piping are not blocked

• Use waterproof bags to protect clothing and important documents

• If a storm is approaching, close any shutters on doors and windows

• Unplug non-essential electrical equipment before the storm arrives

• Keep an emergency kit: A torch, radio, candles, matches, new batteries and any important documents or contact numbers

• Listen to the radio for storm updates or visit the Bureau of Meteorology website for warnings and information

• Know where and how to turn off mains power, water, gas and solar power

• Decide on the best strategy to protect your pets