Consumer Action Managing Lawyer Philippa Heir is an expert in the complex law around insurance and at this critical time she gives the following tips for people whose homes have been impacted by the Victorian floods.
“Your first priority must be the safety of you and your family,” she says. “Once this is sorted, get onto your insurance claim as soon as possible.”
Philippa’s tips are as follows:
- Contact your insurer to make a claim: coverage may be available for flood damage under home and contents insurance, as well as motor vehicle insurance
- Make a list of damaged items, take photos, and keep anything that could be fixed (unless unsafe)
- Take reasonable steps to minimise further damage
- Check what additional benefits your insurance coverage might provide (e.g. emergency or temporary accommodation)
- Find out about debris removal cover (if applicable)
- Be very wary of businesses offering to help you with your claim for a fee.
Philippa says that disasters, “…often bring out the best and the worst in people, and shonky business operators offering ‘help’ can take you ‘to the cleaners’ so watch out”.
Once the claim is underway Philippa says you should:
- Consider if any cash settlement offer will really be enough
- Get legal advice about any claim issues, remember you can delay and or decline a proposed settlement
- If dissatisfied with the insurance offer or service, you can make a complaint direct to your insurer and the insurer must respond in 30 days. If you are not happy with their response, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
Philippa says the following resources are very useful to bookmark:
- Insurance Law Service guide to making a claim for flood insurance: https://insurancelaw.org.au/factsheets/flood-insurance-guide-factsheet/
- Returning to your damaged property https://insurancecouncil.com.au/resource/returning-to-your-property-after-flood/.
- You can contact the Insurance Law Service 1300 663 464 or Disaster Legal Help Victoria on 1800 113 432 for further help.
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