If you've lost your home or business after a natural disaster, you don't have to go it alone. Follow these steps to start your recovery.
Get help to make a recovery plan
Recovering from a natural disaster will take time. There are a lot of financial decisions to think about straight away, and over the months ahead.
There's free support to help you make a recovery plan and navigate financial decisions to get your life back on track.
See a financial counsellor
Financial counselling is free, independent and confidential. A financial counsellor can help you make a plan to manage your money and prioritise your bills and other payments. A financial counsellor can also talk to creditors on your behalf and negotiate affordable payment plans.
If you're a farmer or a grower a rural financial counsellor can help you plan for recovery, negotiate with creditors and access professional services.
The earlier you get help, the more options you'll have.
Help for small businesses
If you're a business owner or farmer, you may be facing financial difficulties due to loss of trade and cash flow problems.
If you've been impacted by floods:
- Visit business.gov.au for information about the support available.
- Chartered Accountants has resources to help you recover.
If you've been impacted by fire:
- Find grants and support from across government to help your bushfire-affected business get back on its feet.
- CPA Australia has a disaster recovery toolkit to help your business recover from a bushfire.
Settle your insurance claim
Your insurer may offer to:
- handle repair or replacement of your home or business, or
- offer cash to settle your claim
Cash settlements mean you have to manage the repair or rebuild process yourself, and you might be left out of pocket.
If you settle your claim within a month of the event, you have up to a year to get it reassessed if you're not happy. See the Insurance Code of Practice for more information.
Video: Managing insurance claims after a bushfire
Claiming insurance after a bushfire can be a daunting process. Take your time and do your research before making any big decisions.
Rebuilding after a natural disaster
Check with your insurer before making any repairs to your property. Your insurer may need to authorise repairs and tradespeople before they happen.
Government clean-up programs
Find out what services you can get for free, before paying for things. The cost of clean up may be covered by your state or territory government.
Watch out for fake tradespeople or repairers
Be careful of anyone who’s door knocking, calling you out of the blue, or leaving leaflets in your letterbox.
Watch out for anyone offering a today-only deal or saying they can get repairs done quicker or much cheaper than legitimate companies.
Don't be rushed into a decision and don't pay cash up front. Take the time you need to make good decisions you won't regret.
The Insurance Council of Australia has information on how to spot and protect yourself from scammers ('storm chasers') who take advantage of natural disasters.
If you encounter a scammer, fake tradesperson or repairer, report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Get help if you run into problems
If you're not satisfied with the insurance claims process or decision, dispute it with your insurer.
If you can't reach an agreement, contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) on 1800 337 444 to make a complaint and get free, independent dispute resolution.
For free legal advice and support, contact:
- Insurance Law Service 1300 663 464
- WA — Legal Aid 1300 650 579
- NSW — Disaster Response Legal Service 1800 801 529
- Victoria — Disaster Legal Help 1800 113 432
- Queensland — Natural Disaster Legal Help 1300 527 700
- SA - Legal Services Commission 1300 366 424
- Tasmania - Legal Aid Commission 1300 366 611
- ACT- Legal Aid Helpline 1300 654 314
- Northern Territory - Legal Aid Commission 1800 019 343