Australian homeowners are underprepared for extreme weather, despite one in four experiencing home or property damage caused by severe weather or natural disasters, new research from QBE Insurance shows.
According to the research1, 71 per cent of Australians do not have a plan for extreme weather or natural disasters hitting their homes. Arron Mann, General Manager Claims, QBE Australia Pacific, says with so many people impacted by hail, storms, bushfires, floods and other extreme natural events, it is important to consider how we can better prepare and protect ourselves.
“Whether you live in the city or the country, extreme weather can affect us all, so it’s better to be prepared,” says Mann. “Our research reveals 37 per cent of people don’t have an emergency plan because they don’t think they need one. But as we’ve seen recently, natural disasters and extreme weather can strike anywhere with little to no warning.”
“Thousands of homes are damaged or destroyed by extreme weather and natural disasters each year. It’s crucial Australians take measures to protect themselves and their most important asset, including reviewing their insurance to ensure it’s adequate should the worst occur.”
In a sign of the times, when respondents were asked to choose one item to take with them if forced to flee their home, most people (39%) chose their mobile phone ahead of their valuables, photos or other precious items.
“One of the benefits of having an emergency plan in place is knowing exactly what you might need to take, such as a mobile phone and important documents,” says Mann.
“It’s also crucial to know where you can go for assistance. This will help you leave quickly and allow you to focus on making sure the people you care about are safe.”
Home preparation is also key to staying protected, but a significant number of Australians can do more to keep their homes safe, according to Mann.
Of the people whose home or property has been damaged by wild weather, hailstorms were identified as the most common cause (37%), however respondents said they were more concerned about storms (28%) and bushfires (23%).
Residents of regional NSW, VIC and QLD felt their homes were better prepared for extreme weather events compared to metropolitan areas. Yet when it comes to protecting their homes, 16 per cent of people said they had no protection or did not know if protection was in place for their home.
“Home protection measures such as conducting regular home maintenance are key to preparing for wild weather and can go a long way in preventing or minimising damage to your home. They can also help ensure you’re not left lodging one of the tens of thousands of weather-related insurance claims we respond to annually.
“Insurance can offer important financial protection, but even if you have cover, the emotional and psychological cost of an incident can be significant.”
Key steps to protect yourself ahead of an extreme weather event or natural disaster include:
- Think about the types of events that could affect you, the likelihood of these occurring and plan and act accordingly.
- Consider insurance and review your cover to make sure it is correct. Ensure your home is insured to cover rebuild costs, considering increasing construction costs and building standards.
- Have conversations with family, friends and neighbours, and discuss how to prepare and help each other. If you intend to stay with someone, develop contingency plans in case they are also affected and unable to assist.
- Put a home maintenance schedule in place and get a home health check from qualified tradespeople and specialists. Ensuring home repairs are up to date could protect your home and potentially assist with insurance claims.
- Make an emergency plan and prepare a survival kit. Ensure important documents and valuables are easily and quickly accessible in case you need to evacuate your home. It also appears family support would be key to many Australians if a natural disaster or extreme weather event affected them, with 73 per cent of respondents saying they would rely on family for general support. However, 64 per cent of people haven’t discussed disaster planning with anyone, including fellow householders.
“Over half of the survey respondents would rely on family to get by in a dire situation, but most haven’t spoken to anyone about their plans let alone family members,” says Mann.
“Taking the time to ensure you and your loved ones understand the risks and are prepared for wild weather can not only bring peace of mind, but in a disaster situation, can also save time, valuable property, and most importantly, lives.”