Know the difference between storm and flood damage this cyclone season

Know the difference between cyclone and flood damage this cyclone season header image

Is your insurance watertight?

Know the difference between storm and flood damage this cyclone season

As we head into a La Niña cyclone season, it’s important to understand the differences in how insurance providers define storm and flood damage. You should be aware of how they apply to your body corporate property to protect yourself against loss.

Here are some of PICA Group’s tips on how to protect your property and ensure your insurance claims are successfully accepted when it comes to cyclone and flood damage:

  1. When the floodgates open – Tips to help ensure your insurer accepts your claim
  2. What can you do to protect your property?
  3. More work to be done

Fortunately, more than half of our body corporate customers have peace of mind knowing they have storm and flood cover with our CommunitySure policy. For others, it’s a perfect time for bodies corporate and property owners to learn the subtle differences between storm and flood damage in an insurance context to make sure your policy is watertight.

 

When the floodgates open

Negotiating with insurers over damage claims can be frustrating at the best of times.

When your property has sustained thousands of dollars of water damage and needs repairs to be completed urgently, determining whether it has been caused by a storm or a flood is the last thing on your mind.

For your insurance company, finding the source of water that caused the damage will determine whether they accept your claim or not.

So, what can you do to ensure your insurer accepts your claim for unexpected weather damage without question or delay? Here are some handy things to consider when assessing whether an insurance policy suits your needs:

 

  1. The fine print

Legislation can be tricky and different rules may apply to different types of property. Although insurance is covered in the regulation modules, the responsibility lies with the body corporate to know which regulation module applies to their property and to seek the most appropriate insurance cover.

 

  1. Know the difference

Some body corporate insurance policies do no cover flood damage caused by storms and rainwater runoff.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, a “flood” is defined as:

“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.”

As it can be challenging to determine the cause of damage, body corporate owners can get tangled up in lengthy negotiations to substantiate their claim.

When it comes to storm damage, the Insurance Council of Australia doesn’t formally define a “storm”, so it’s best to make sure you understand the definition of storm versus flood in relation to your insurance policy.

Information PICA Group tip icon

PICA Group tip
If your policy excludes flood damage, your policy may still cover you for events such as storm damage or rainwater damage. Further clarity can be found in the product disclosure statement (PDS) of your policy. Our CommunitySure team recommend that you check your policy wording and talk to your insurer or broker if you do not understand what you are covered for.

  1. Call in the experts

Don’t just rely on hydrology reports and technical assessment of the damage to your body corporate property provided by your insurer. Should your claim be rejected, you are well within your rights to conduct your own assessment to substantiate your insurance claim. But be warned: conducting your own assessment will lengthen the time it takes to finalise your claim as the insurer conducts further investigation.

Don’t know who to call in the case of an emergency? Our Community After Hours team of qualified technicians deliver round-the-clock common property assistance in an emergency.

What can you do to protect your property?

When becoming an owner in a body, you should make sure you:

  • Understand insurance-related rules set out in the regulation modules specific to your property type
  • Compare insurers and their policies as they can contain different levels of cover, general definitions, general conditions and general exclusions
  • Check with your body corporate about the insurance history of the property and request any records from the archives to help you make the right insurance choice
  • Seek independent advice from a body corporate insurance broker to gain clarity regarding the content of your preferred insurance policy. The broker can check the extent of cover provided and discuss the process for lodging a claim should damage happen again in the future
  • Keep a record in the form of photos, videos, emails and other conversations
  • Keep track of any insurance claim-related legal cases that have set a precedent in your state to stay aware of your rights as a property owner.

And if your property has suffered weather damage, remember to immediately contact your insurer or broker to guide you in the process. Where possible, take photos, videos, and provide any emails and other conversation records of the damage to include in your claim before you begin the clean-up.

More work to be done

Industry bodies such as the Strata Community Association (QLD) are working hard to ensure that Queensland’s body corporate communities are a priority focus.

The Labor Government has pledged to instate a legislation working group, making changes to improve the insurance situation.

This represents a vital lifeline for concerned North Queensland bodies corporate and property owners affected, with new regulations to streamline body corporate procedures, reduce body corporate costs and enhance protections for unit owners.

Please remember, any advice in this article is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.

The information provided is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. The company disclaims all responsibility and liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company.


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