Last year’s bushfires in New South Wales were widely reported to be the biggest since the 1960s. Hot, dry and windy weather caused the fires to start and spread with disastrous consequences to homes, businesses and lifestyles.
However, after the embers had died down and the smoke cleared, some Blue Mountain residents were left with crucial revelations about their property insurance plans.
One year after the Victorian Black Saturday fires in 2009, the national building code was amended to include a bushfire attack level (BAL) rating on all properties in high-risk areas. Those building or rebuilding property in the area had new design and construction specifications to follow in order to meet regulation standards.
The trouble is, many Blue Mountains residents and business owners are completely unaware of the changes, and as the area again becomes susceptible to disaster, property owners are finding themselves drastically underinsured.
Having the wrong insurance protection has lumped some property owners with a bill of $100,000 to cover the windfall in rebuilding costs, according to Insurance News, leaving homes and businesses in a serious state of vulnerability.
There’s no doubt fire can critically affect businesses, and ensuring the correct level of insurance cover is integral. From farmers and crop insurance to creating appropriate business insurance, a little know-how can go a long way. Unfortunately, many residents didn’t know and were not informed.
Who wants to be a messenger?
The question on many residents’ lips is how were they to know about the regulation changes that have left them underinsured and could cost them their livelihood. Who should be informing them?
Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) has called on the Federal Government to step in and take charge of the matter by legislating for the burden of responsibility to fall upon the insurance companies. However the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) say their resources make it impossible and the BMCC should inform residents.
The third option, as the two sides argue it out, is to contact your insurance broker and ensure that your property is covered by a comprehensive insurance plan.