Experts say insurance and planning critical for bushfire prone areas

A research trio from Monash University in Victoria has urged Australians to include home insurance in their bush fire recovery plan after finding many residents in bushfire prone areas with little or no cover. 

Kate Booth, Bruce Tranter and Christine Eriksen interviewed residents living in areas where bushfires are a risk. The results showed 9% of homeowner respondents did not have house insurance, and 41% of tenants did not have contents insurance. 

“Our research suggests that house and contents insurance works best as one aspect of an integrated disaster preparedness and recovery plan,” they wrote in a recent article for The Conversation

“Insurance can help in the aftermath of a disaster only if it is coupled with collective clean-ups, infrastructure repair, government assistance, and community outreach,” they said.

The Victorian government recently appointed a Ministerial Working Group to find ways to improve Victoria’s fire services even more. They will release these recommendations when the bushfire season finishes in the coming months.

According to the Daniel Andrews government in Victoria, as it stands there are more than 62,000 firefighters, operational personalle and support staff across the state to help eliminate fires this season. 

“Victoria’s fire services do an excellent job in protecting lives and properties. Our priority is making sure they have the support they need to continue doing the best job on the front line,” said the Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett.

In the wake of around 116 houses destroyed in Victorian bushfires over Christmas, fire authorities in other states are calling for Australians to carefully plan for the Summer months ahead. 

"Know what you need to do to prepare yourself, your family and your home before a bush fire and know what each member of your family will do if a fire threatens," Station Commander, John Arnot from Bowral Fire Station in regional NSW told Southern Highland News.

"I urge everyone living in bush fire prone areas to download a free Bush Fire Survival Plan and have a conversation with the family,” he said. 

The Bush Survival Plan has plenty of tips to take on board over the Summer, some of which include:

• Talking with the rest of the household to decide whether you will leave or stay and fight should fires break out near your home. 

• Preparing your home for the risk of fire by mowing lawns, trimming trees and shrubs to minimise impact. 

• Installing safer mechanisms around the home such as metal fencing instead of wood which is more flammable. 

• Keeping in the loop with fire authorities and news online.

If you are living in a bush fire prone area and need to take out insurance as part of your bushfire survival plan, start by comparing home insurance with Mozo’s comparison tool here.