Getting your finances in order before the cyclone season starts is an essential part of any cyclone emergency kit, says People’s Choice Spokesperson Stuart Symons.
“If you live in a cyclone-prone area, there are three vital steps you can take now to protect yourself if the worst happens,” Mr Symons said.
1. Check if your insurance cover meets your needs and circumstances
“Having the right insurance to make sure your home, contents and vehicles are covered will help you and your family to get back on your feet if the worst happens,” Mr Symons said.
“Whether you rent, own your own home outright, have a mortgage, have recently completed renovations or changed family circumstances, it is important to make sure you have the cover you need for today,” he said.
“You should regularly check what your insurance covers, for how much and whether it is current – but if you don’t do it regularly, certainly use the start of the season as a prompt to protect yourself.
“Make sure you’re covered adequately for theft, fire, water damage and storm surge and that the policy covers the costs of cleaning up, demolition, emergency accommodation and extra cash to cover essential items like food and clothing. And if you’re renting, make sure your vehicles and contents are adequately covered.
“Financial situations can change so it doesn’t hurt to check the excess specified in your policy. This gives you a chance to assess whether you’re still comfortable with the amount you’d need to pay if you made a claim or if you’d like to pay a higher voluntary excess and bring down the cost of the premiums or pay a higher premium to bring down the cost of the excess,” he said.
2. Know your financial details
“Any cyclone emergency kit should have all the financial information you need,” Mr Symons said.
“You should have a list of personal records and documents all in one place and have a digital copy of these stored with a secure online backup service for an additional layer of protection in case you don’t have time to grab the physical copies,” he said.
“Your kit should have a list of big items you will need to replace along with photos and details such as a serial numbers which will help when making an insurance claim. Documents proving your identity – passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate – should also form part of your kit, as should contact details for your financial institution and insurer.
“Most financial providers will help you recover details such as account details and insurance policy information – you just need to know how to get in touch and they can help with the rest.”
3. Assessing the damage and making a claim
“When authorities allow people back into the area, it is understandable that emotions will be running high, but it is important to be as methodical as you can,” Mr Symons said.
“Document with photos and notes to support any insurance claim, and then contact your insurer before cleaning up to check what you should and shouldn’t be doing next. Ultimately, you should be able to check through the damage that you’ve noted to ensure it has been repaired to your satisfaction before signing any insurance release.
“You should also speak with your financial institution, insurance company and various levels of Government to find out what support they may provide in the face of an emergency and listen to local radio for details of temporary accommodation.
“The Northern Territory Government issues hardship grants for personal needs including food and clothing for those directly affected by a disaster. Those without insurance may also be eligible for payments for emergency accommodation, the replacement of household items and the cost of restoring an uninsured home to a safe and habitable condition. You may also be eligible for financial counselling.”
More information on the Northern Territory Government’s hardship grants can be found at www.disasterassist.gov.au.
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