If you sustained damage to your property during Cyclone Debbie, it’s pays to check in with your insurance agency to see what you’re covered for.
The Financial Ombudsman Service said the property damage caused floods could be categorised as either storm damage or flood damage.
1. Storm damage: The general view taken by the general insurance industry is that flooding of a property by rain water would normally be regarded as storm damage.
2. Flood damage: Currently insurers define ‘flood’ differently. The definition your insurer is using in your policy will be stated in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
What should I do if my property has been damaged?
The first step is to contact your insurer to lodge a claim. The insurer may send an assessor to inspect your property.
The assessor will give the insurer a report on their findings and this will help the insurer to decide whether to accept or decline your claim.
If the assessor cannot determine if the damage was caused by storm or flood, they will organise a hydrologist to visit your property and the surrounding area to determine the cause of the damage.
What will the hydrologist do?
The hydrologist is a water specialist who will assess how your property was affected.
They will provide their opinion about whether your property was affected by storm water or flood water.
The information collected by the hydrologist is vital in cases where it is not clear which event came first, the storm damage or the flood damage.
The hydrologist’s report is passed on to the insurer to help them make a decision on your claim.
The report will generally include the following information:
· the amount of rainfall that fell before the creek or river broke its banks
· where the creek or river broke its banks
· the path the flood water took from the time it broke its banks until it reached your home.
What if I disagree with the insurer’s decision?
If you disagree with the insurer’s decision, you can lodge a complaint directly with them or you can contact Financial Ombudsman Service, who will forward your complaint on to the insurer.
When lodging your complaint, clearly outline why you believe their decision is incorrect.
Include any supporting documentation that might help the insurer to review your complaint.
What if the insurer did not clearly inform me that flood damage was not covered by my policy?
If you believe this has happened, provide brief written details of the discussions you had with the insurer when you took out the policy. FOS will consider this information when dealing with your dispute.
My home is uninhabitable – what should I do?
First, tell your insurer. They may come to some agreement with you while your claim is progressing. If your insurer cannot help you with this, lodge a dispute with FOS and make them aware that your home is uninhabitable.
Phone: 1800 337 444 Web: www.fos.org.au Email: FOSdisaster@fos.org.au
Am I entitled to temporary accommodation?
Temporary accommodation is a benefit under most building policies. This benefit applies if the claim is accepted. During times of flood, vast numbers of claims are usually lodged with insurers.
As a result, there may be delays with claim decisions. If you need temporary accommodation while your insurer is making a decision, contact them first.
The insurer may ask you to pay for the temporary accommodation. If your claim is later accepted and your policy provides this benefit, the insurer will reimburse you a reasonable amount.
If you can’t afford temporary accommodation because of your other expenses, such as mortgage repayments, contact your loan provider and explain your situation. Generally, they will allow you to halt repayments for three months.
For more information, head to the FOD website.