This Aussie summer’s set to be a scorcher: here’s how to keep your home safe from bushfires and cyclones

Katherine O'Chee

Monday 21 October 2019

It wouldn’t be an Australian summer without a string of heatwaves and bushfires, and this year is set to be no exception. 

This Aussie summer’s set to be a scorcher: here’s how to keep your home safe from bushfires and cyclones

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest forecast has revealed that Aussies may need to brace for those extreme weather conditions even more often than usual in the next few months, with summer expected to hit us with hotter and drier days. 

“The increased odds of warmer than average days, coupled with a very dry landscape and a very likely late start to the northern wet season, gives a clear indication that we’re likely to see more heatwaves than normal,” the Bureau’s head of long-range forecasts, Dr Andrew Watkins, said. 

“It also adds to the potential bushfire risk, particularly when you consider how dry many parts of southern and eastern Australia are at the moment.” 

Watkins added that the time is ripe for Aussies to prepare for potential natural disasters - whether it’s learning about the weather risks in your area or finding the right protection for your home

“Not being complacent and taking the time to know your weather and know your risk is one of the best ways to stay safe during the coming severe weather season.” 

RELATED ARTICLE: Hot summer ahead: a timely reminder to check your home insurance 

The forecast also found northern Australia could expect slightly fewer cyclones this year, but Watkins said this shouldn’t stop Aussies living in cyclone-prone areas from taking precautions.

“We’ve never had a tropical cyclone season without at least one cyclone crossing the coast. This means that despite a reduced risk this season, all communities in northern Australia must be ready,” Watkins said. 

“Even if cyclones stay well out to sea, they can still pose a significant risk to property and lives through strong winds, intense rain and flooding, and storm surges.” 

How to prepare for the severe weather season

Given your property is likely to be one of your most valuable assets, how can you take steps to protect it from bushfires, floods or cyclones? 

The short answer: home insurance.  

Many home and contents insurance policies come with cover for natural disasters, although if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, it might be a good idea to take out additional cover - just so you have extra peace of mind that your house and valuables will be covered, should the worst happen. 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing home insurance: 

1. Premiums 

Various factors affect the level of premium you have to pay, including where your home is located and what your home is made of. 

For instance, if you live in an area that has higher bushfire or flooding risk, or if your house is built from flammable materials like wood, you may be charged a higher premium. 

2. Waiting period 

There’s usually a waiting period after you’ve bought a policy - around 48-72 hours before your cover is activated for fire, storm or flood damage. This means the earlier you take out insurance, the better it is, as you won’t be able to claim any compensation for damage that takes place during the waiting period. 

In other words, it’s always better to be ready with insurance before you need it, rather than only after something has gone wrong. 

3. Exclusions 

As with any kind of insurance, exclusions will apply. While this varies from insurer to insurer, you generally won’t be covered for: 

  • Smoke damage or scorching from a nearby bushfire, if the flames don’t touch your house 
  • Storm damage to outdoor areas and items, or if rain, hail or snow comes into your home because it’s not properly maintained (e.g. a crack in the roof)
  • Flood damage to outdoor areas or fixtures, or to a part of your home that isn’t fully built

Before picking out insurance, it’s always wise to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) so you know your policy limits. 

Looking to protect your home from weather threats this summer? Head over to our home insurance comparison page to compare your options and get started on finding a great policy for you today.

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