Dealing with a damaged property
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Dealing with a damaged property

Whether you own your own home, or are renting, damage to a property can be stressful and costly. We’ve looked at ways of dealing with the impacts and how to prepare for such an event.

Apart from your super, your house is probably the biggest asset you'll ever have. So, if your house or contents are damaged, it's important to resolve the issues as quickly, and as stress free as possible.

Living in Australia, we're all aware of the bushfires and floods that occur regularly each season. When these events occur, it's a timely reminder that we all need to be prepared for possible property damage.

Our homes are such an important part of our everyday lives. We raise our families, celebrate special occasions and store our most treasured possessions there. And during COVID lockdowns, many of us are working or doing schooling at home.

What to do

So, what should you do if your house gets damaged? Obviously the first action depends on the type of event.

You should call your State Emergency Service on 132 500 for flood, storm, tsunami and earthquake emergencies. And for life-threatening emergencies call 000.

Once any immediate danger has been removed, the next step is to contact your general insurance company and make a claim. They may send out an Assessor to check out the damage in person, so don't throw anything away until the assessment is complete. And if you must throw something out, take a photo first.

[ TIP: To protect yourself against loss, check that you are not underinsured. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission estimates that up to 80%* of homeowners are underinsured. ]

Seek help

Having your property damaged is a traumatic event, especially if you can’t live there for a while. This can affect your job, your children’s education and your self-esteem. If you’re not coping with these changes, please contact a financial counsellor at Financial Counselling Australia or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

How super can help

If you are injured during an event, you may be unable to work for a period. And if you were to become permanently disabled, or pass away, you’d want to be sure that your family have financial security. 

It's always worth contacting your Fund to check on your level of Death and Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) cover and Income Protection cover. This is especially important if your circumstances have recently changed, e.g. if you have purchased a property or started a family.   For more information head to how insurance in super works

Under certain circumstances, you can also apply to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to have your super, or part of it, released on compassionate grounds. For more information visit access your super

Checklist

To minimise the impact of property damage on you and your family, here is a list of things you can do now.

  1. Have a rainy-day account

    Look at your current bills and expenses to work out how much you can put aside for emergencies. This online budget planner makes it easy.

  2. Organise health and general insurance

    Having insurance for your car, home, contents and health can reduce the impact on you if your house and contents get damaged. Also, make sure that you’re not underinsured. Learn more about underinsurance here.

  3. Check your insurance cover through your super

    Contact your Fund to check on your level of cover. For more information head to how insurance in super works
  4. Take photos of everything

    While keeping receipts is a good idea, these can be lost or damaged during a house fire or flood. As a back-up, take photos of any item worth over $100. And if possible, take a photo of the serial number also. If you have loads of DVDs, CDs or even vinyl records, keep an online list handy.

  5. Check your house and surroundings

    Walk around your house, and the surrounding area, at least every 6 months and do a quick safety check. You can prevent any small issues from becoming big ones further down the track by:

    • checking that your roof tiles are in place and in good condition
    • keeping an eye on larger trees near your house that may need cutting down or pruning
    • safely getting rid of any damaged power cables in or around your house
    • getting rid of piles of dried leaves near your house and in your gutters
    • changing the batteries in your smoke detectors every six months and making sure they’re in working order.

* Source: https://www.dsh.gov.au/your-home-risk-underinsurance

Insurance cover is provided by OnePath Life Limited ABN 33 009 657 176 AFSL 238 341 (“OnePath”) and subject to the terms and conditions of the insurance policies issued by OnePath

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