THE COVERWISE BLOG

Protect Your SME: Flood Preparedness Tips

Flood damage insurance claims can be contentious. Here’s why:

  • Disagreements over coverage – storm cover isn’t the same as flood cover
  • The property owner may be inadvertently underinsured
  • Flood map issues
  • Conflict between the property owner and insurer’s adjustor 
  • Bad design, faulty construction or a property defect (leaky roof, for example) caused the damage, not a flood, and

Riverine, flash, and coastal floods are the most common types we experience in Australia.

This article will guide you on flood damage coverage: what it is, how to manage your risks of claiming, but, importantly, what happens if you need to claim. We’re here to help you navigate this at times difficult process. 

What is flood insurance?

The standard definition of a flood, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), is:

“The covering of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of: 
1. any lake, or any river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not altered or modified; or 
2. any reservoir, canal, or dam”. 

Your insurance policy could still cover you for events, including storm or rainwater damage, even if it excludes flood damage. Sound confusing?

Where rainwater that’s fallen naturally from the sky has resulted in that water inundating your property, then your policy could cover damage from that storm or rainwater. Typically, insurers include rainwater runoff in storm cover, but some insurers exclude instances where a customer decides not to take flood cover.

As your broker/adviser, we can give you clarity on the coverage your policy offers, and if it’s not a best fit currently, can advise on customised options.

What to do after flood damage occurs

If you’ve had to evacuate and it’s safe to return, then your immediate steps include:

  • Prioritising human and animal safety before inspecting for property damage
  • Documenting damage, such as with photographs and lists of property damaged as well as undamaged
  • Boil tap water until authorities declare it safe, avoid eating food that’s been in floodwater, don’t turn on your utilities or use appliances until a professional has checked them
  • Minimising further damage through reasonable but safe steps (which could include temporary repairs), and
  • Talk to us as your broker/adviser.

We will step you through the process of lodging a claim – we can do this for you – but will need particular documentation. It’s also important to know what to expect when the insurance adjuster arrives – you can prepare for it. 

Prevention and preparing for the next flood

Your local council will have a flood plan which identifies problem areas, evacuation routes as well as relief centres. Check it out so you know if floodwaters are a risk to your site, and how to safely leave. 

Consider using sandbags to reduce inundation – your State Emergency Service or local council can advise you about these. And yes, inland tsunamis do happen as experienced in a Central West NSW town in 2022. It occurred in the middle of the night, but if there’s some inkling of a flood happening in your area, ensure you listen to your local ABC Radio station.

Think ahead to potential flooding. Reflect on past heavy rains and how water behaved around your property. Watch for signs of mould on ceilings or walls, acting quickly to address any maintenance needs. Get Ready Queensland is a good resource to visit.

Regularly update photos of your valuables and property stored securely in the cloud. This will streamline any insurance claims you might need to file later. Let us, as your broker/adviser, know about any significant renovations or purchases so we can verify your coverage. Reviewing your policy regularly is always a wise move.

Floods may strike with little warning, but there are steps you can take to prepare, minimise damage, and limit disruption. We’re here to support you.

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