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. The earlier you get help, the more options you'll have.
Get free financial advice
Registered financial advisers will volunteer their time to help you rebuild financially. The Financial Planning Association and Association of Financial Advisers are offering free support to Australians affected by bushfires.
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.
A new $10,000 grant for small business is now available. Find grants, recovery events and support from across government to help your bushfire-affected business get back on its feet. Call the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line on 1800 413 828 or visit business.gov.au.
You can also get help from:
- a rural financial counsellor if you're a farmer or a grower. They can help you plan for recovery, negotiate with creditors and access professional services
- CPA Australia has a disaster recovery toolkit to help your business recover in the weeks and months ahead
- Chartered Accountants has a checklist for small business owners
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
- NSW — Disaster Response Hotline 1800 801 529
- Victoria — Disaster Legal Help 1800 113 432
- Queensland — Bushfire Legal Help 1300 527 700