NSW bushfires: Big banks offer relief packages for affected customers

As a number of devastating bushfires continue to rage across New South Wales having already destroyed 30 homes, all four major banks have introduced relief packages for customers affected by the fires.

ANZ has announced a financial assistance package for customers affected by the NSW bushfires which includes the suspension of loan repayments (including credit cards) for up to three months, waiving fees for the early withdrawal of term deposits, assistance in the restructuring of finances or application of new home or personal loans.

“Our thoughts go out to all who have been impacted, including the firefighters who have lost their homes while protecting the homes of others,” said Stuart Hancock, ANZ’s Head of Regional Business Banking for New South Wales.  

“This is a very difficult time for our staff and customers in NSW who have lost livestock and property, we hope this assistance package provides them with the financial relief and support they need.”

National Australia Bank has also reported a similar disaster relief package which includes credit card and personal loan relief, the suspension of loan repayments, as well as the provision for support and counselling from their Employee Assistance Program.

“Anyone who needs assistance or advice can contact us so we can discuss their circumstances and work out the best way to help,” said NAB’s General Manager Retail for New South Wales, Paul Juergens.

The Commonwealth Bank has also announced the activation of its emergency assistance package for businesses and customers affected by the bushfires.

The bank has offered assistance for home loan, credit card and personal loan customers who have experienced difficulties due to the fires, while also providing emergency accommodation assistance for Comminsure customers whose homes have been damaged.

Westpac joined the other three big banks in providing their own disaster relief package, offering customers extended credit card limits, deferred repayments, and discounted personal loans.

"We know this is a really difficult time for affected communities and we wish to extend our support to all customers affected by the bushfires," said James Cudmore, Westpac's State General Manager for Regional New South Wales. 

30 homes have been destroyed in four separate fires across the state, including 23 houses in a fire east of Dunedoo in central western New South Wales which has burned through over 50,000 hectares of land and devastated the small community of Uarbry.

New South Wales RFS Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, described the conditions which helped fan the fires over the weekend as almost unparalleled for NSW, and some the worst possible for firefighters fighting the blazes.

Five tips for home insurance claims

For those who have been affected by the NSW bushfires, the Insurance Council of Australia has provided the following advice for policyholders:

  • Get in contact with your insurer as soon as possible. Many will have online claims systems, mobile apps or 24/7 phone lines to make it easier.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on home insurance documents. Your insurer will only need the name of the policyholder and the address of the property to find a policy.
  • Contact your insurer before making any repairs. You should only make emergency repairs to your property for safety reasons.
  • Make a list of any damaged possessions.
  • Take photos of any damage to your property or possessions as evidence for your claim, but only when it’s safe to do so.