Home Insurance Policies with Storm Damage

Australian weather can turn from beautiful to dangerous in the blink of an eye, which is why a home insurance policy that covers hail and storm damage can give you peace of mind.

‘Storm season’ is a very commonly used term in Australia. The period of time between November and March typically sees hot weather and more frequent storms, bringing high wind and heavier rains. Previous high profile storms like Tropical Cyclone Yasi and the more recent Cyclone Debbie wreaked havoc on Northern Queensland, while other areas in New South Wales and Victoria have seen flash flooding and storm surges.

Storms such as these can cause major damage to your home and contents, which is why you might want to consider a home and contents insurance policy that offers cover for damage sustained from a storm.

The table below displays a snapshot of five home & contents products with storm damage cover and direct links to the providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest). These results are based on a policy holder under 50 years old in New South Wales and ACT for building & contents worth less than $550,000. 

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Home & contents insurance with storm damage cover

Storm damage cover is an inclusion on a home and contents policy that offers financial protection in the event of your home or belongings being damaged due to a storm. It’s a common feature on most policies. At the time of writing, Canstar lists 107 different policies that have storm damage cover. However, the type of damage you’re automatically covered for can vary from policy to policy:

On Canstar’s database at 29/11/2017…

  • 73/107 policies cover damage to gates and fences
  • 19/107 cover damage to retaining walls
  • 49/107 cover damage due to landslides (in some cases the landslide must occur within 72 hours of the storm)

Ensure that you check the PDS to see the limits of your cover for these events.

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Storm damage by fallen trees insurance cover

Home & contents insurance with flood cover

It is also worth noting floods can be caused by storms but not covered under storm insurance. For that, you need to also take out flood cover, which is often an optional inclusion. There are three different kinds of flood cover:

  1. Storm surge cover: the most common, which is cover for flooding during a storm surge
  2. Flash flooding
  3. Riverline flooding (when a river or creek overflows)

King tides and actions of the sea (such as tsunamis) are rarely covered under home insurance policies. Most policies at least offer optional flood cover to varying degrees, and given that about 80%  of insurance losses from floods occur in areas that have been flooded in the past according to  Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiativeit can be worth considering flood cover as an optional extra.

However, there are also people that pay over the odds for flood cover when their home is unlikely to ever flood. If your home is high above sea-level and historical data shows a lack of flooding in the past, then carefully consider if you really need it.

Flood damage cover in australia

The table below displays a snapshot of five home & contents products with flood cover and direct links to the providers’ websites. Please note these results are based on a policy holder under 50 years old in New South Wales and ACT for building & contents worth less than $550,000. 

How are storms and floods different in insurance?

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

The Insurance Council of Australia states that there is a clear difference between storm damage and flood damage:

“The storm might fill the river, but once the river overflows, that’s a flood.” 

So you can see why this can be confusing – a flood caused by a storm might not be considered as storm damage if it ravages the bottom floor of your home. That’s why it’s important to consider a home insurance policy that covers you for both.

How to lodge a claim after a storm

Flood damage cover options

If your home has been damaged by a storm, the most important thing is to ensure your safety. Disconnect all electronic devices and stay away from fallen power lines. If the house has sustained structural damage, take shelter in the strongest room (usually the bathroom) and call 000 or the SES.

Once the storm has passed and you’ve ensured the safety of yourself and your loved ones, contact your insurer right away. Assess the damage and take as many supporting photos as you can. Try to track down any receipts you have for lost contents too, as you may not be able to replace them under a contents policy otherwise.

You can then send these details to your insurer, along with the relevant documentation. As the insurer will likely be dealing with many different claims during this time, they may send an assessor to inspect your property. The insurer will accept or deny your claim based on how well it matches with the assessor’s report.

Depending on your claim’s success, you may or may not receive a benefit to cover your losses. Your home and contents policy will list what you are and aren’t covered for in the event of a storm, so it’s important to be aware of your rights. Be prepared for a bit of back and forth to ensure you can cover as much of your losses as you can.

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Tips to prepare your home for a storm

To minimise the impact a storm has on your property, you can take a few simple steps as advised by Stormwise:

  1. Ensure all your insurance policies are valid and adequate
  2. Clear your gutters and pipes, and secure any loose items around the house
  3. Get rid of any loose tree branches close to your home
  4. Identify the safest room in the house and keep some emergency water containers and fuel on hand for cooking
  5. Charge your mobile phone fully in case you have a power outage

Once the storm is underway, do not go outside unless you are absolutely certain it is safe to do so. Even being in a car is safer than being outdoors during a hailstorm. Be sure to watch out for fallen trees and power lines as well, and remember to listen for any emergency announcements on your radio.

Canstar has also prepared two handy guides on preparing for floods and cyclones too, to help you be fully prepared for any punches Mother Nature throws at you.

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