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What is storm cover?

Storm cover is typically a standard inclusion in home and contents insurance. This type of cover can offer protection for damage or losses to your property and belongings caused by storms, flooding and rainwater runoff.

Should I get storm cover?

Generally speaking, storm season in Australia is between November and March. Realistically, however, weather events like heavy rain, strong winds and even thunder and lightning can happen any time throughout the year. That’s why storm cover is essential to have as a ‘financial umbrella’ for your home and contents.

Frequently asked questions

What does storm cover include?

Your home and contents policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) outlines the exact events you’ll receive financial cover for if your property suffers storm damage.

The storm feature in your policy can cover a range of inclement weather and natural events that could:

  • cause damage that needs to be repaired
  • leave your home uninhabitable (temporary accommodation may be covered)
  • cause a loss of value to your home or possessions.

Ultimately, your exact level of coverage will depend on your insurer and home and contents policy. The inclusions and exclusions included in the table below are based on an analysis of different Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) from insurers compared on Compare the MarketTM.

Some general inclusions and exclusions from insurers compared on our website as at 21/01/21

What’s covered? What’s not covered?
Loss or damage to your building (home) and contents resulting from:

  • storms
  • rainwater runoff.
Loss or damage caused by actions of the sea (i.e. tsunami, high tides, rise in sea levels, etc.)

Loss or damage caused by:

  • water that entered your home because of renovations
  • underground water seepage or pressure
  • hydrostatic pressure
  • soil movements which didn’t occur immediately after a storm or rainwater runoff

Loss or damage to:

  • retaining walls
  • fences and gates that are not structurally sound
  • garden, driveways, paths, pavers
  • swimming pools or spas
  • jetties and pontoons.

Compare different home and contents cover options that include storm insurance with our free comparison tool. Our helpful service makes it easy for you to find a great-value policy from some of Australia’s top insurers.

What counts as storm damage for insurance?

From an insurer’s standpoint, the following events comprise typical storm damage:

  • storms – severe atmospheric disturbances often accompanied by strong winds, rain, lightning, hail, snow or dust;
  • thunderstorms which may bring lightning, hail, wind gusts and flash flooding. Extreme thunderstorms can often cause large damage to properties, as well as injury or death;
  • lightning that affects your property’s electricity network and even bring down powerlines;
  • hail which damages anything made of glass or other building materials, such as your car and house windows;
  • rainwater that overflows from stormwater drains;
  • runoff including overflow from swimming pools, spas and tanks resulting from excess rainwater;
  • storm surges where seawater rushes onshore due to strong winds or sea movements; and
  • land gales and powerful winds that can cause damage and injuries.

If you live near the sea, you might also want to determine whether your home faces any potential risks. These can range from king tides and coastal erosion to subsidence and building collapse. If you do live in a coastal area, you might not be covered for storm surge-related damages, except for tsunami damages.

If you believe your home is at risk of storm or flood damage, you should review the terms and conditions of your home and contents policy (listed in your PDS). You should also contact your insurer if you’re confused about a particular event and your level of cover.

You should also review your policy and assess your level of cover regularly to make sure your property and assets are adequately insured against unexpected events, like a storm. Start by comparing different cover options with our free home and contents insurance comparison tool.

How much is storm insurance?

You may pay more for your home and contents policy if you live in an area prone to natural disasters (i.e. floods, storms, bushfires etc.) Your premiums will also vary between insurers and policies.

Premiums can also be impacted by other factors like:

  • the estimated value of your home and contents
  • your sum insured (the maximum amount your insurer will pay if your home is damaged or destroyed)
  • the age and structure of your property
  • where you live
  • your age and the age of other people listed on your policy
  • your claims history
  • your home security
  • your optional cover options
  • your excess amount (the sum you pay towards your claim)
  • stamp duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and any other applicable government charges.

To find out how much you could be paying for home and contents insurance, compare a range of quotes from some of Australia’s reputed brands with our free home and contents comparison tool. You’ll be able to refine your quote based on policy benefits, levels of cover, excess amounts and more.

Is storm damage an act of God?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an act of God as ‘an extraordinary interruption by a natural cause (such as a flood or earthquake) of the usual course of events that experience, prescience, or care cannot reasonably foresee or prevent.’1 By this definition, some storms could be considered an act of God, signifying an uncontrollable natural force in operation.

Please note that an act of God isn’t an official benefit category or exclusion of home and contents insurance. Many home and contents policies usually cover earthquakes, floods, storms and lightning, but may exclude actions by the sea and landslides, for example.

Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for all the inclusions and exclusions of your policy. You can also check how some insurers define natural disasters and weather events by comparing different cover options with our free comparison tool.

What should I do if my home has sustained storm damage?

If your property has been damaged during a storm, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) advises to follow these simple steps:2

  1. If there is a life-threatening emergency, call 000 immediately.
  2. Disconnect all electrical devices and stay away from fallen trees or power lines.
  3. If you have pets, keep them sheltered or inside.
  4. Contact the State Emergency Service (SES) if there is a storm-related emergency at your property.
  5. If your house is under threat of collapse or breakage, shelter in the strongest room.

Many insurance policies also include temporary accommodation if your property becomes unliveable as a result of storm damage. You can use our free home and contents comparison service to find out which insurers offer this benefit.

After you’ve lodged a storm damage claim, your insurer may send an assessor to inspect your property. The assessor will provide the insurer with their findings, which will help the insurer decide whether to accept or decline your claim.

If the assessor cannot determine whether the damage was caused by storm or flood, they will organise a hydrologist (a water specialist), who will assess your property and the surrounding area to determine the exact cause of the damage.

What should I do if my claim is rejected?

If your storm cover claim is denied and you don’t understand why, you can contact your insurer and request an explanation in writing as to why your claim was rejected, before lodging a complaint with their Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) department.

If after that you’re still not satisfied with your insurer’s response, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) within two years of receiving the IDR response from your insurer. The AFCA will first try to resolve the dispute by way of negotiation or conciliation with your insurer before the ombudsman decides on the merits of your complaint.

Sources

  1. Merriam-Webster-Act of God definition (2019).
  2. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services- Get ready guide (2018).

 

 

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