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What to do after a natural disaster

How to manage after a bushfire, storm or flood

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Follow these steps to find help and begin to recover from a natural disaster. 

Talk to someone for advice and help

Talk to someone qualified and experienced about your situation. They can explain the options available to support you. 

Video: Get help from a financial counsellor after the bushfires

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with financial decisions after the bushfires, a free financial counsellor can help you

Speak to a free 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.

Find emergency and crisis support

There are free services to help you with food, housing and bills. See urgent help with money.

Your state or territory government can also help you find support during and after a natural disaster.

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Get free legal advice

You can access to free legal advice and support if you need it:

  • 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 004 924

Talk about your emotional health

Making financial decisions, particularly after a natural disaster, can be overwhelming. The emotional impact can be significant, especially if the recovery process is long. Speak to:

Contact your bank or lender

Let your lender know you have been impacted by a natural disaster. Their financial hardship teams will have a range of ways they can help you. If you're finding it hard to make loan or credit card repayments, ask your bank or lender for a hardship variation.

Financial hardship team contact details are on the Australian Banking Association or the Customer Owned Banking Association websites.

Check your insurance cover

Deal directly with your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial adviser. They'll check what your policy covers you for and help you make a claim.

If you need emergency accommodation, ask your insurer if they can help you.

If you have lost your insurance details, call the Insurance Hotline on 1800 734 621.

Assess the damage to your property

Only when it's safe to do so, assess the damage to your property. Check for any dangers, for example, asbestos or unsafe electrical wiring and equipment. Always avoid floodwaters.

Take photos or a video of your property. Make a list of all the damage, including as much detail as possible.

Take safe and reasonable steps to prevent any further damage to your property and belongings. For example, covering damaged roofs to prevent further water damage.

Check with your insurer before making any repairs to your property. Your insurer may need to authorise repairs and tradespeople before they happen.

Start your insurance claim

Ask your insurer or an authorised, trusted insurance broker or financial adviser to explain how to make a claim. The Insurance Council covers the key steps of the claims process.

If you need help with your insurance claim: