In light of the 1 in 100 year storms and floods which continue to wreak havoc across NSW’s mid-north coast and Western Sydney regions, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has today declared a catastrophe for large parts of the State. For insured residents, businesses and property owners in affected areas, this is good news – their claims will now be fast tracked.
Since the storms first hit last Thursday March 18, some NSW locations have seen close to 1000mm of rain, with others receiving 500mm. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says around 18,000 people have so far been evacuated from their homes, and the NSW Government is appealing to the Australian Defence Force for clean up assistance across the State. At the time of writing, Queensland’s south-east is also being affected by extreme weather.
NSW major flooding is expected along the Hawkesbury River at Windsor and Sackville, the Macleay River at Kempsey and Smithtown, the Wollombi Brook at Bulga and the Colo River at Upper Colo and Putty Road.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology, March 22, 2021.
KEY IMPLICATIONS FOR 2021 PROPERTY INSURANCE
NSW 2021 VERSUS TOWNSVILLE 2019
With residential insurance premiums in strata and real estate already increasing by more than 10% at the start of this year, March 2021 will be remembered for the NSW flood events starting on 18 March 2021 (and rain to continue to fall until approximately 25 March).
For context, the Townsville floods of 2019 was forecast to potentially cost insurers and reinsurers ~$1bn in claims. Based on the widespread impact of this month’s NSW flooding thus far, this March 2021 event is likely to see insurance claims exceeding those of Townsville.
THE IMPACT OF UNINSURED BUILDINGS
The impact of uninsured buildings due to flooding in NSW is likely to be high. Many businesses are reporting that insurance cover for flood was not in place due to affordability issues. Instances such as these demonstrate how important it is for property owners to source quotes via a reputable insurance broker – brokers who rigorously audit their needs, ensure cover is adequate, and that the price of premiums are not considered in isolation.
GOVERNMENT SAFETY NETS
The current NSW floods will stretch NSW and Federal Government safety nets – their potential to ease the burden of increasing premiums post catastrophes will now be at capacity. The insurance industry is already dealing with increased insurance premiums in North Queensland (and Australia), cyclone areas and rural bushfire locations, specifically in alpine regions.
SUPPORT FOR STRATA & REAL ESTATE AGENTS – HONAN READY TO HELP
Honan Insurance Group is on hand to assist with NSW flood related claims and will be drawing on its national team to prioritise the lodgement. We’ll also be working hard to make affected buildings safe, if impacted by flooding and / or storm water damage. It is important that you check your insurance policy to review what you’re covered for. Some insurers have implemented an embargo on writing new insurance policies in NSW locations that are experiencing severe storm and flooding events.
KEY STEPS FOR LODGING A CLAIM
If you are insured via Honan Insurance Group, you can lodge a claim directly online, or via your Strata Manager or Real Estate / Property Manager.
- Contact insurance broker citing the date, time, cause and location of the loss
- Use your insurance policy number reference when making a claim
- Take photos of damage
- Obtain identification of all civil authorities involved. i.e. SES, Police, health department, building inspector, etc.
- Keep relevant damaged items for assessment or photo evidence
- Arrange for quotes
- Retain all invoices, time sheets etc, to ensure all costs are captured and attributable to the loss and to prevent an overlapping of normal costs with these expenditures
- If you are making a business insurance claim, have your ABN and GST information handy (if applicable).
UNDERSTANDING FLOOD INSURANCE
Not all properties are exposed to the risk of flooding, however with the insights from the 2019 Townsville flooding and this month’s NSW flooding yet again highlights the need for clients to work closely with their broker to understand their risks, to secure adequate cover and purchase adequate flood insurance to protect their livelihood and assets.
Using a reputable insurance broker will give you access to flood mapping tools that can be used to determine if you are in a flood area with no risk, or in an area with the potential of low, medium or high risk flooding.
You can learn more about strata flood insurance – what it covers, and whether you need it, here.
We’re With You All The Way
Feel free to reach out to discuss your situation and address any questions or concerns.
National Head of Strata