With more than 2,000 firefighters battling NSW bushfires yesterday, it is clear that bushfire season is now upon us. With these blazes destroying livestock, homes, agricultural machinery, and whole town centres, it is important to have a bushfire back up plan.
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) February 13, 2017
Three of Australia’s big banks have recently introduced an emergency assistance package for customers and businesses affected by the bushfires in New South Wales.
ANZ has announced their financial assistance package gives customers the option to suspend debt repayments on loans, including credit cards, for up to 3 months.
Head of Regional Business Banking NSW, Stuart Hancock, said it’s devastating to see the impact of the bushfires over the weekend, with authorities reportedly fighting over 200 fires around NSW.
“Our thoughts go out to all who have been impacted, including the firefighters who have lost their homes while protecting the homes of others,” said Mr Hancock. “This is a very difficult time for our staff and customers in NSW, and we hope this assistance package provides them with the financial relief and support they need.”
ANZ emergency assistance offers:
- Suspending repayments on loans, including ANZ credit cards, for up to 3 months (which may include interest capitalisation).
- Waiving fees associated with restructuring ANZ business loans considered necessary due to fire impacts.
- Restructuring finances or applying for new ANZ home loans or personal loans without incurring the usual application fees.
- Providing temporary adjustments to existing lending limits, including credit cards, to assist with unexpected costs.
- Allowing withdrawal of cash from term deposits early without incurring any fees for impacted customers.
- Waiving fees associated with replacement of damaged business EFTPOS/credit card terminals (see merchant services).
- Affected customers with ANZ home and contents insurance may be eligible to receive assistance including emergency funds and temporary accommodation.
- Waiving life insurance premiums for up to 3 months for eligible customers of ANZ life insurance or OnePath life insurance (a company of ANZ).
Commonwealth Bank has also jumped on board, with their emergency assistance package including a range of options such as emergency accommodation assistance for CommInsure customers whose homes have been damaged. They are also allowing the withdrawal of cash from fixed term deposit funds before maturity.
CommBank emergency assistance offers:
- Emergency accommodation assistance for CommInsure home and contents insurance customers whose homes have been damaged.
- Expediting claims to CommInsure for customers seeking help through their home and contents insurance and car insurance.
- Customised assistance for Commonwealth Bank home loan, credit card, and personal loan customers who may experience difficulties due to the fires.
- Considering requests for additional loans including emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval).
- Loan restructuring for business customers with existing CommBank business loans.
- Waiving pre-payment charges over the next month for affected customers wishing to access term deposits and Commonwealth Investment Bonds ahead of the maturity date.
- Waiving fees for temporary and damaged merchant EFTPOS terminals, as well as merchant fees until trading recommences.
- Allowing withdrawal of Cash Deposit Account Fixed Term Deposit funds before maturity without penalty.
- Waiving the early termination amount for insurance payouts (applicable to Asset Finance only).
- Waiving other selected fees and charges.
We have activated our Emergency Assistance Package for our customers affected by bushfire in NSW. We're ready to help on 1300 653 012.
— CommBank (@CommBank) February 13, 2017
The CommBank Media Team have released a statement saying, “We understand that each customer will have different needs, and we encourage our affected customers to discuss their individual circumstances with us by either phoning 1300 653 012 or visiting their nearest CommBank Branch.”
National Australia Bank has also released a similar disaster relief package which includes a range of similar services such as credit card and personal loan relief.
They have also opened up their Employee Assistance Program to their consumers, proving support and counselling to people who need it most.
“Anyone who needs assistance or advice can contact us so we can discuss their circumstances and work out the best way to help,” said Paul Juergens, NAB’s General Manager Retail for New South Wales.
NAB emergency assistance offers:
- Relief for NAB credit cards and personal loans where appropriate.
- Suspending repayments on NAB home loans and personal loans.
- Waiving costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early.
- Waiving home loan and personal loan application fees.
- Support to restructure other existing bank facilities.
- Provision of support and counselling by making NAB’s Employee Assistance Program available to customers.
NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, recently expressed relief that despite over 200 bush grass fires were fought over the weekend, no lives had been lost.
“Bushfire season is one of the most dangerous times of the year, and we must act with caution. Even if you don’t think you’ll be affected, have a bushfire action plan just in case.”
For Canstar’s Bushfire Planning & Survival Action Plan, click here.