Steps to take before disaster strikes to help protect your home and belongings.
Know your disaster risks
To find out if your home is in a natural disaster prone area, contact:
- your insurance company
- your local council
Ask them about flood mapping, historical flood records, and the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) of your home. If you contact your council, ask them whether your house meets natural disaster standards.
You can take steps to help protect your property from the risk of disaster. See the Insurance Council of Australia site for ways to reduce your risk.
Check if you're underinsured
You're underinsured if your insurance doesn't cover all the costs of rebuilding your home or replacing its contents.
The market value of your home might not be enough to pay for a rebuild. The costs to rebuild after a natural disaster can increase due to:
- the need to meet current building codes to better protect it from future disasters
- higher demand in affected areas for builders and supplies
Use a home insurance calculator to work out your rebuilding costs. Find a calculator that asks lots of details about your home. This may include if it's built on a slope, the quality of fittings and age of the home.
Check if your insurer offers a 'safety net' on your policy. This means they add up to 30% to your sum-insured amount in the event of a total loss.
See Storm, flood and fire insurance to check if you have enough insurance to rebuild and repair your home.
Securely store important documents
Protect important originals
Place important documents and records in a fire resistant, waterproof safe at home or in a safe deposit box. These may include:
- marriage or birth certificates
- wills and powers of attorney
Keep electronic copies
Scan or take photos of important documents. Store these files on:
- an external hard drive — store this away from your home. Keep in a locked drawer at your work, with your solicitor, or with a close friend or relative
- online cloud storage — Australian Cyber Security Centre has information to help make sure your documents are secure
Make an emergency plan
Take time to plan what your household will do in an emergency. This may include where to get information, when to evacuate and what to pack.
The Australian Red Cross has free tools to help you plan for an emergency.
These resources can help you plan and prepare for bushfires or floods:
- EmergencyWA — My Bushfire Plan
- Country Fire Authority Victoria — Before and during a fire
- NSW Rural Fire Service — Bushfire survival plan
- ACT Emergency Services — Bushfire survival plan
- Get Ready Queensland - Prepare for and understand flood risk
- NSW State Emergency Service - Things you can do before a flood
- Victorian State Emergency Service - Be flood ready