Are you insured for a bushfire?

The Bureau of Meteorology has recently announced an El Niño weather event for this summer and homeowners are urged to act now to protect their home ahead of bushfire season.

Whether you live in a lower-threat area or bushfire-prone suburb, you may already know your risks and have taken steps to prepare your home. But have you checked if your insurance coverage is adequate and up to date in case you’re affected by a fire?

Understand how much cover you need

Most home insurance policies cover you for a set sum insured for the building and the contents — a value agreed upon by you and your insurer. This is the amount it would cost to rebuild your entire home and replace all your home contents. The cover provided for replacement is usually ‘new for old’.

Knowing these values off the top of your head may be difficult, but these figures are essential when deciding on the right level of cover for your home and contents.

However, the cost to repair or rebuild can sometimes be greater than the original estimate due to rising home rebuild costs and changes to building and construction standards.

GIO automatically includes Safety net home protection cover on Classic Extras and Platinum Home Building policies, or this can be added as an optional cover on Classic Home Building policies. This cover provides a financial buffer if the cost of repairing or rebuilding after an insured loss exceeds the amount your home is insured for. Exclusions and limits apply, so please read the PDS for more details.

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What to consider when calculating your sum insured

While it may seem appealing to lower your insurance premium by reducing the sum insured for your home, doing so may leave you out of pocket if your home is significantly damaged.

To help you calculate the replacement value of your home, GIO has a useful home building calculator to help estimate how much it might cost to rebuild your home new for old. Please note it’s intended as a guide only so consider talking to a qualified expert – like a builder or an architect – for a more accurate estimate.

Updated building codes

To ensure new homes are built according to the latest safety standards, building codes are updated periodically, and if they’ve been revised since your home was built this could add to your repair or rebuild costs.

A recent study estimated bushfire building codes can add between $16,000-$56,000 to your final cost of repair or rebuild for meeting bushfire attack level (BAL) 12.5 to 40 requirements and $65,000-$277,000 for meeting BAL Flame Zone requirements.1

Costs of rebuilding

Several factors can impact rebuilding costs, including:

  • The location of your property. If it’s on a slope or difficult to get to, your costs could increase.
  • The style of the building, the type of wall and roof construction materials, and the kind of finishes you’ll include.
  • Whether you have additional structures or features – like a pool or a shed – as well as fencing and driveways on your property.

You may also need to consider the following additional costs. With GIO these are covered on top of your home sum insured, up to a percentage of the home sum insured, which varies depending on your level of cover (Classic, Classic Extras, or Platinum):

  • Removal of debris or the cost to demolish parts of a damaged structure.
  • Reasonable temporary accommodation costs for the time it will take to rebuild.
  • Reasonable and necessary architect or surveyor fees.

Contents cover

To keep your contents cover up to date, consider creating an inventory of your belongings — especially more expensive items like appliances and electronic devices. Keep track of their value and proof that you own them, and update your policy as needed.

Update your policy

Read the fine print

It’s essential to check the terms and conditions when selecting an insurance policy, including whether bushfire coverage applies. Here are a few things to consider about your home insurance:

  • Exclusion periods. For example, GIO Home and Contents Insurance does not cover bushfire, storm, storm surge, flood or tsunami for the first 72 hours of your policy. Very limited exceptions apply. Read the PDS for more details.
  • Some policies cover damage caused to your home and contents by fire, heat, ash, soot and smoke that occurs within a certain distance of your home (and not only at your home).
  • Not all policies cover all types of damage and all types of events, so check that your insurance cover meets your needs.

Want to find out more? Our insurance specialists are here to help. Call us on 13 10 10 or visit the GIO Bushfire Support page.

Read More:

1 Fire Australia

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Please read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Limits and exclusions apply. The Target Market Determination is also available.

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law (including the Australian Consumer Law), we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.