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Summer storms and bushfire season, are you prepared?

The recent storm activity along the NSW coast and the extensive damage caused has signaled the early commencement of the summer storm and bushfire season. NSW is often subjected to unpredictable and destructive weather particularly during the summer months.

How prepare will you be in the event a natural disaster impacts on your home, business or property?

The first step is to check your insurance policies. Are you covered for damage caused by storms, bush fires or rising floodwaters?

Is your sum insured sufficient to rebuild your family home, and will your content sum insured cover the cost to replace all of your contents?

Scary Fact:

More than 80% of Australians are risking their homes and other valuable assets by not having enough insurance, a national survey released recently has found.

And a staggering 23 per cent of all homeowners and renters have no contents insurance at all!

The Quantum research of more than 900 Australians, commissioned by peak general insurance industry body the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), found 83 per cent believed they would be worse off in the event of a crisis because their insurance would leave them significantly out of pocket.

Insurance is not a commodity. It’s a promise. It allows people to take control of their lives against life’s many uncertainties. The Understand Insurance survey reveals far too many Australians don’t properly value their assets, and choose their insurance policy (and sums insured) based on price rather than the most suitable coverage. They don’t understand how insurance works, or they believe they can cover the replacement cost if something goes wrong.

Also, new regulations have significantly increase rebuilding costs in some cases!

For example The Australian newspaper reported on 4 January that victims of the Blue Mountains bushfires face insurance shortfalls of up to $200,000 because of new building regulations that will significantly increase the costs of rebuilding homes.

“New national building standards created after the Victorian bushfires introduced stringent requirements for houses in the highest category of risk, called the “flame zone”, such as heat-resistant glass, and ember-resistant roof membranes.

“Many of the residents were unaware of the cost of the new requirements and had insured their homes for replacing the existing structure, without realising how much more expensive a new, fire-resistant structure would be.”

Former NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Phil Koperberg, has been coordinating recovery efforts in the Blue Mountains. He stated that underinsurance would be a major issue in the rebuilding task.

In its report, The Australian illustrated this major issue with the case of one Winmalee resident whose house had been destroyed. Costing $300,000 to build 11 years ago, it was insured at $720,000. Quotes to rebuild the house using heat resistant glass as required by the new building standards, however, ranged from $850,000 to $1 million.

“We can’t rebuild the house we had. We either have to reduce the size, or move on, which we don’t want to do, but unfortunately we probably have to,” the Winmalee resident said.

Please take the time to accurately calculate your correct sum insured the following link can assist you.

Online Sum Insured calculators

What to do if disaster strikes

Immediately following any natural disaster, your highest priority should be the safety of those around you such as family or staff.

Be aware of hazards around the home or business such as broken glass, downed power lines and trees. Shut off power if wires are exposed or if you smell burning. If you require assistance, contact the appropriate emergency services, such as SES, police, fire brigade or ambulance.

When safe to do so, minimise any further property damage or loss. Check your home or premises and remove any property at risk, including vital business records, to a more secure location.

Businesses should check for failures in critical equipment and begin sourcing replacements as soon as possible. Secure your property by boarding up broken windows and arranging a security guard to protect your premises after hours.

Report any damage to your insurance company or to your Insurance Broker within 24 hours. Complete all claims documentation as soon as practicable while details are fresh in your mind.

Update your emergency plans for your family home and business now.

Be prepared with a Home Emergency Kit

A Home Emergency Kit contains essential items that you may need during and after a severe storm or flooding. It should be able to sustain you and your family for at least 3 days or longer.

Your Home Emergency Kit should contain some or all of the following items:

  • Portable radio & torch (batteries or wind-up).
  • Mobile phone, spare battery & charger.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Sturdy gloves.
  • Non-perishable food and drinking water (at least 5 litres per person per day for 3 days). Don’t forget your pets need to eat and drink too!
  • Any essential medication.
  • Special requirements for babies, the disabled, elderly or pets.
  • Toiletries.
  • Important documents and cash in waterproof bags.
  • Change of clothing and shoes.
  • Pillows, sleeping bags and blankets.
  • Camping stove or gas burner.
  • Valuable items & photos in waterproof bags.
  • Books & games to keep bored kids entertained.
  • Portable generator if available.
  • Portable fire extinguisher.
  • Gaff tape.
  • Tool kit.


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