As Queensland residents who suffered the devastating effects of Cyclone Marcia begin to recover their homes, businesses and belongings, uncertainty still remains around how residents can prepare themselves to ensure they recover their full insurance entitlements.
Shine Lawyers’ Disaster Insurance Recovery team provide 10 tips to ensure that Queensland residents recover all their losses.
1. Locate your policy and review what you can claim for. There are many categories of cover that most people are unaware of i.e. you could be entitled to temporary housing or you could be able to recover the costs of an accountant, a builder, quantity surveyor or a loss adjuster assisting you to put your claim together.
2. If you do not have copies of your policies, request them from your broker or insurer and document your request in writing. Remember that your broker is paid by the insurance companies.
3. Gather information about the damage to your property. This should include photographs of your property before and after the loss, information about work done to improve your home over the years, including engineering reports and any information you might have received from the insurance company about your loss.
4. Make an inventory of damaged possessions and, if possible, find receipts or bank statements to back the inventory up.
5. Be particularly careful about concluding that damage is purely cosmetic. If the damage is more than cosmetic and you do not receive the full repairs or replacement now, you will be precluded from doing so in the future as the insurance company will not pay for hidden damage that was later discovered.
6. If your home is unsafe and you have to find alternative accommodation, remember that you could be entitled to recover the costs of temporary housing.
7. Speak to a specialist before going ahead with any repairs as your insurer might try to deny a claim for unauthorised work.
8. You can remove and discard any water or mud-damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings, but take photos and keep samples of materials and fabrics to show the assessor and justify your claim.
9. Don’t just accept your insurer’s first offer of settlement, especially if it leaves you short. Insurers have been known to try and minimise their losses. Call your broker or a legal professional if you aren’t happy with your insurer’s response. You do have remedies, including alternative dispute resolution without the need to go to court.
10. Do NOT sign a release or acknowledge that any work is satisfactorily completed without speaking to a specialist.
Shine Lawyers represent Queenslanders who have had their claims reduced or denied unfairly by their insurers in particular for flood, fire and cyclone claims and have been advising others on the unreasonable jump in premiums in North Queensland.
Written by George Newhouse