Understanding insurance needs when living in strata can be daunting, but ensuring you know what your insurance covers is extremely important. Have you reviewed your insurance policy to ensure you have the cover you need?
Australia’s most experienced specialist strata insurance broker, Body Corporate Brokers (BCB) look at reassessing your insurance needs in light of recent weather events.
A period of weather to forget
The frequency and severity of extreme weather events in Australia are not showing any sign of easing. We are experiencing our third consecutive year of La Niña, and water tables and dam levels are high – with the ground still struggling to dry out from its previous drenching. People are worried… and rightly so.
Since 2019, 11 catastrophes have been declared, with around $13bn paid out in claims by insurers.
In its Insurance Catastrophe Resilience Report 2021-22, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared four catastrophes in 2021-22 – the Mansfield earthquake (Vic), severe storms (SA, Vic, Tas), and two instances of flooding in south-east Queensland and NSW. This resulted in:
- $6.41bn incurred claims
- 380,760 claims lodged
- $17k average claim value.
To put this in context, in the previous year (2020-21), despite five catastrophes being declared, the total loss incurred was $2.45 billion. That’s an astonishing $3.9 billion difference and demonstrates how the severity of these events is increasing, particularly when they follow so closely, and communities have little time to recover and rebuild.
But statistics only tell part of the story – they do not capture the effect of the loss on individuals, businesses, and communities. Total economic costs include broader social losses related to uninsured property and infrastructure, emergency response and intangible costs such as death, injury, relocation, and stress.
Strata insurance – what’s covered and what’s not
When it comes to protecting your property, it is important to understand who is responsible for what.
The owners’ corporation is responsible for taking out Residential Strata Insurance to protect the building and all common or shared property and contents.
However, it is the lot owner or tenant’s responsibility to protect personal items like clothing, phones, jewelry, furniture, and electrical appliances.
Note that your Strata Building Insurance offers protection for damage caused by an insurable event. This does not include damage caused by wear and tear or poor maintenance.
Accidental or Malicious damage
- Storms/Lightning Strikes
- Vehicular Impact
- Burglary and Theft
- Glass Breakage
- Burst Pipes
Maintenance and Building defects
- Leaking roofs
- Leaking toilets
- Settlement/movement cracks
- Concrete cancer
- Electrical wiring faults
Contents and fittings
- Personal contents
- Floor coverings
- Wallpaper and painting
- Curtains and blinds
- Light fittings
- Electrical appliances
While this list is a good guide to what is typically covered and not covered by strata insurance, it is not an exhaustive list. You should always read the terms and conditions for your policy and contact your insurer if you have questions about coverage for your particular property.
Flood vs storm damage
Not all water damage is considered the same when it comes to insurance.
Typically, a strata insurance policy covers storm damage. Some insurers will offer flood cover as an optional cover, although this may not be available if you live in an identified extreme flood-prone area. It is essential to understand the difference and ensure your policy has the most appropriate type of cover for your property based on where it is located and the level of potential risk.
- Flood is 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, or any reservoir, canal, or dam.
- Stormwater is rainwater hitting the ground and building up or flowing down streets.
Tips to prepare for another wet summer
A La Niña event dramatically influences our climate. It can bring more Spring rain, cooler days, tropical cyclones, more snow, and an earlier onset of the wet season in the north. So, before La Niña 3.0 arrives in full force, there are some simple things you can do to ensure your property is prepared for the season ahead.
- Review insurance policies and check they cover what you need with an appropriate sum insured – storms, flood, temporary accommodation etc.
- Undertake any necessary property maintenance
– Ensure any underground structures, such as basement car parks and basements, are as watertight as possible and that sump pumps are operational.
– Ensure lift wells are watertight and sump pumps are operational.
– Have your roof inspected to ensure it’s in good condition and undertake any repairs or maintenance necessary to prevent leaks.
– Falling trees from saturated soil releasing tree roots can cause injury and death, so ask an arborist to check any large or suspect trees to ensure they are secure and don’t pose a liability hazard.
– Clean and unblock drains and gutters.
– Ask the local Council to unblock any Council drains as this will affect water build-up onto a property that might not otherwise flood.
- Prepare an inventory of home contents so you have a record of items and their value.
- Have a storm readiness kit – torch, radio, candles, matches, new batteries and important documents or contact numbers.
Have an expert in your corner
BCB understands that a broker’s role is far more than providing quotes and setting up policies.
- We can help you identify areas of risk and recommend which risks to insure against.
- Our intricate knowledge of policy terms and conditions, benefits and exclusions, enables us to find the most appropriate cover for your individual needs.
- We offer a full claims management service, presenting a claim to the insurer in the most favourable way to facilitate a prompt and uncomplicated settlement.
Unfortunately, after successive years of excessive rain, standard processing times for claims have been put under pressure as insurers spend more time corresponding with customers. And while insurers have employed thousands of additional staff to cope with the vast number of claims, assessing and processing this huge workload has been hampered by pandemic lockdowns, a shortage of tradespeople, a lack of raw materials and high demand for experts like engineers and hydrologists. But the industry is slowly turning the corner thanks to a huge effort by everyone involved in the insurance and strata industries.
It may be a wet season ahead but being prepared can help you better weather the storm.
For assistance with specialist strata and community insurance contact Body Corporate Brokers (BCB). To discuss your property’s strata management needs or receive a FREE management proposal contact our friendly team. We also offer more helpful resources and community living news in our FREE newsletter.