Paying attention to your finances now is an essential part of planning for the cyclone season.
Pack once, pack right
You will need more than a radio and batteries to pack for a quick recovery, People’s Choice Credit Union spokesperson Stuart Symons says.
“It’s better to understand now what you will need to know later so you can collect and protect the records that will help you recover,” he said.
“Personal records can be the most important assets to safeguard to get back on your feet again. Carry your passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate and leave copies in your emergency pack. If you’ve got time, consider uploading copies of essential documents to a secure online backup service for an additional layer of protection,” he said.
“Cloud-based copies of receipts and up-to-date pictures of essential items can also help as a reminder for insurance claims and as proof of ownership – they will also help speed up your insurance claim,” he said.
“Most financial providers will help you recover details such as account details and insurance policy information – you just need to know how to get in touch and they can help with the rest,” he said.
Mr Symons said keeping contact details of your financial institution and insurer in multiple places could jump-start any recovery process – especially as major insurers will generally enable emergency plans once a catastrophe like a cyclone occurs. Most will provide details of their plans on their website or social media accounts.
Protect the right things
Understanding the extent and depth of your insurance cover before a claim is likely to pay dividends in an emergency, Mr Symons says.
“You should regularly check what your insurance covers, for how much and whether it is current – but if you don’t do it regularly, certainly use the start of the season as a prompt to protect yourself,” Mr Symons says.
Mr Symons said there were some essential questions to ask of your house, contents, vehicle and boat policies:
- Is your coverage up to date and does it cover the appropriate risks for your area? You may need to make sure you are covered for risks including theft, fire, water damage and storm surge.
- Are you comfortable with the excess payable and the amount to be covered?
- Does your house and contents policy cover the costs of cleaning up and demolition?
- Do your policies cover temporary emergency accommodation, food, clothing, and for how long?
- Do your policies allow for a cash payment to cover essential items?
- What items need to be separately identified for coverage? Do you have a list of those items and photos and details such as a serial number, and are those details available remotely?
After the storm
Safety is always the first concern, Mr Symons says.
“Check that authorities are allowing people into the area first. You may also want to speak with your financial institution or insurance company to take the first steps of recovery,” he said.
“If it is safe to re-enter your home, try to be methodical – document the damage with photos and notes as this will support any claim you make. And don’t forget to speak to your bank or credit union, your insurer and various levels of Government to find out what support they may provide in the face of an emergency. Most have established arrangements to help your cash flow in the event of an emergency,” he said.
Other tips for a quick recovery include:
- Call your insurer before you start cleaning up. They will explain what needs to happen, what is available through your policy and ensure any repairs taken are both authorised and covered by your policy.
- List and photograph your damage and destroyed items.
- Water-damaged goods may need to be removed to prevent a health risk – talk with your insurer and take photographs before they are removed.
- Listen to local radio and other media for details of temporary accommodation.
- Check with your insurer about what needs to be done to secure your property before leaving.
- The Northern Territory Government is able to issue hardship grants for personal needs including food and clothing for those directly affected by a disaster. Those without insurance may also be eligible for payments for emergency accommodation, the replacement of household items and the cost of restoring an uninsured home to a safe and habitable condition. You may also be eligible for financial counselling. More information can be found at www.disasterassist.gov.au.
- Do not sign a release unless you are positive that the work done is complete and covers all damage, not just cosmetic work.
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