With the roll out of the 2019 Fire Danger Season it's time to revisit your fire emergency plan to make sure you're ready in case fire comes your way.
“The official start of the fire season is a timely reminder to check your evacuation plans, make sure your hoses are working and ready and that you have a bag packed with emergency items that you can grab for a quick getaway – including the financial information you need to get back on your feet faster,” People’s Choice Spokesperson Stuart Symons said.
“Knowing if you are going to stay or leave, preparing your property and having an emergency kit are very important. But your preparations aren’t complete unless you also have your wallet, credit cards and debit cards and ID and the most essential documents you’ll need to be able to access your money and contact your insurance company,” he said.
You can help ensure your finances are fireproof by taking the following four steps.
1. Check your insurance cover meets your needs and circumstances
“Use the start of the season as a prompt to check you have the right insurance to make sure your home, contents and vehicles are covered,” 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 your circumstances today. Check your policy to make sure you’re adequately covered for fire, the cost of cleaning up, demolition, water damage, theft, emergency accommodation and extra cash to cover essential items like food and clothing.”
2. Know your financial details and have proof for insurance companies
“Your emergency kit should contain important personal records and documents – all in one place for easy access. It should include a list of important personal objects and costly household items, including the serial number, and you should include photos and videos you can use for proof for any insurance claims. You will also need documents that prove your identity – passport, driver’s licence and birth certificate – and contact details for your financial institution and insurer,” Mr Symons said.
“You may not have access to your physical copies when a fire comes through your neighbourhood so it’s a good idea to have a digital copy of your financial emergency kit stored with a secure online backup service for an additional layer of protection.
“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. Assess your immediate needs
“Assess whether you need temporary accommodation and if you have any other needs such as medication, clothing or food. You should then 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 or where you can go for food, water and shelter,” Mr Symons said.
“If you’re not covered by insurance, contact your local or state government agencies. Government hardship grants can be issued to cover personal needs including food and clothing for those directly affected by a disaster.”
4. After the fire
“Safety is very important so make sure you don’t re-enter your home unless authorities have cleared your area to be re-entered,” Mr Symons said.
“Even when authorities do allow people back into the area, it is understandable that emotions will be running high, but it is very important to wear the right safety gear and be as careful as you can when checking the damage.
“You’ll want to methodically document all damage with photos and take notes to support any insurance claim, but don’t start cleaning up until you’ve spoken to your insurer as fire damage can affect the structural integrity of the building and pose a threat to your health from fine dust particles and other dangers.
“Once damage has been repaired, check the work against your notes to ensure it has been repaired to your satisfaction before signing any insurance release.”