For many Australians on the east coast of Australia, summer means storm season.
“Storm season in Australia is from September to March each year – but severe weather and storms can strike at any time.” – Collective Insurance Brokers (CIB)
With October and November already having seen plenty of rain and thunderstorms and the odd tornado, we thought there was no better time to share some tips for your property when it comes to storm damage.
What are the first steps you should take in an emergency?
Collective Insurance Brokers (CIB) have put together some advice for the first stops you should take in an emergency.
“If it is after hours contact the Collective Insurance Brokers 24/7 Afterhours number and one of our partners will be available to assist to perform temporary ‘make safe’ repairs to the site of damage so further damage is less likely to occur. In this instance, it could involve putting a tarpaulin over the area of the roof which has been damaged so that when it rains, resultant water damage is less likely to occur.
After the property has been secured as best as possible, you should then contact your broker or Body Corporate Manager to lodge a claim for the damage. Once your claim is lodged, the insurance company will then allocate an assessor and / or builder / contractor to come out, evaluate the damage and arrange for permanent repairs as soon as possible.”
Who is responsible for damage?
As always, there is no one answer fits all when it comes to strata. All schemes are different and will need to be assessed on a case by case basis. However, we have put together some information below to assist in determining who is responsible.
If you live in what is called a standard format plan in Queensland, which are generally stand alone houses, but can be townhouses, in most (but not all) cases you will hold your own building insurance cover, and should contact them for any building damage.
For those in building format plans, which are generally units, but can be townhouses, your body corporate is likely to have building insurance.
If damage is to your own property at your premises you should contact your own contents insurer.
If you have experienced damage to your building structure, check your insurance policy and if it doesn’t include building insurance locate the relevant policy for your scheme (this may require you contact the Body Corporate, Building Manager or Body Corporate Manager). Check the policy to examine the level of coverage as policies differ, and contact your insurer to discuss the damage.
How can I determine if the damage is my responsibility as the lot owner or the responsibility of the Body Corporate?
Determining responsibilities for repairs and maintenance is a particularly complex matter. To assist, you should firstly find out which regulation module applies to your scheme by contacting the Titles Office on 1300 255 750. Your Community Manager will also be able to assist with this. Knowing your plan of subdivision will help you define the boundaries of your lot and the common property.
In most cases the Body Corporate must have building insurance and public risk insurance for the common property and assets. Different insurers and policies can contain different levels of cover. Your first steps might include:
- locating the relevant policy for your scheme and lot—you may wish to contact the Body Corporate, On-site Manager or Body Corporate Manager (if applicable)
- checking the policy for the extent of its coverage
- contacting your insurer or broker to discuss any damage and the process for lodging a claim
- documenting damage. For example, by taking photos or video
- cleaning up after the storm (where safe to do so) to minimise the extent of the damage.
How to prevent storm damage for your strata scheme
Storm season has begun so now is the time to be prepared – as individuals and as a community.
When was the last time your scheme had a building valuation and adjusted your insurance accordingly? Major insurers recommend strata communities have a full building valuation at least every three years.
Once you are insured correctly, the next step is maintenance and preparation. Various websites such as Harden Up have practical tips to ensure you and your community are prepared for storm season.
The site has information which is sensible and practical such as:
- Check your roof area for loose tiles or iron sheets.
- Considering having tarpaulins and ropes available in the case of roof damage.
- Check roof eaves, gable end walls for gaps corrosion or rotten timber.
Another great suggestion is to draw a map of your property and clearly mark the location of your electrical switchboard, gas connection or tanks, water supply, and keep this with your Household Emergency Plan in the case of a natural disaster.
Check your level of cover
Collective Insurance Brokers (CIB) stated, “It is also important to ensure you are adequately covered under your buildings residential strata insurance policy and understand any exclusions.”
Living in Australia often means unpredictable weather and extreme rain events. If your property has damage caused by storms or other natural disasters, SSKB will work hard to ensure damage is quickly and effectively repaired to a high standard with the best outcome for your community.