We’ve already seen severe and devastating floods across the east coast this spring. And with the BOM predicting a soggy summer ahead for much of the country, it’s time to prepare your rental property to withstand stormy conditions.
Torrential rain. Flooding. Gale-force winds. Hail. Lightning. It’s not the image that instantly springs to mind when most people think about an Aussie summer, but the reality is that the summer months are also the height of the natural disaster season (November to April).
For southern Australia, it’s the peak time for bushfires and storms. And in the north, it’s cyclone season.
The east coast has already faced devastating storms and flooding recently. And we know that the Bureau of Meteorology declared in September that La Niña was underway in the Pacific Ocean, so communities in eastern Australia should be prepared for more above-average rainfall over spring and summer.
Severe storms can cause flash flooding, unroof buildings and damage trees or power lines, resulting in widespread damage. In fact, on average, severe storms are responsible for more damage (measured by insurance costs) than tropical cyclones, earthquakes, floods or bushfires.
Now you can’t control the elements, but some proactive maintenance can help reduce the risk of your investment property suffering storm damage.
In fact, it’s a condition of your insurance policy to adequately maintain the premises. If you need to make a claim due to storm damage, one of the key factors that can determine whether or not you will be covered by your insurance is the standard of property maintenance. So, if you haven’t kept up-to-date with repairs, you could find part, or all, of your claim rejected.
Below is an action plan to help you prepare.
Top tip: You should engage professionals to carry out inspections, repairs and specialised work like roofing and tree lopping. Be sure to check that the tradie is insured and holds any required qualifications and licences.
Head to the top. Fix the roof.
- Get the roof checked for leaks and other damage.
- Fix any cracked, broken or displaced tiles.
- Patch or replace damaged roof sheeting.
- Have any built-up dirt removed.
- Check there are no damaged bricks or cracked joints on flues and chimneys.
- Inspect the inside of the roof space.
- Inspect the ceilings and walls for signs of leaks.
Make like a sweep. Clean gutters, downpipes and drains.
- Make sure gutters and downpipes are free of debris.
- Check for rust, holes, blockages, other damage and that gutters and downpipes are securely attached.
- Clear leaves from the valleys of the roof.
- Check drains are clear of blockages and free-flowing.
- Channel water to drain away from the property.
Channel a lumberjack. Trim trees and branches.
- Have overhanging trees and branches on your property pruned so they can’t fall on the home or power lines.
- If there are trees (not on your property, e.g. verge trees) or powerlines that may pose a threat to your property, contact your council or energy company to check them.
Grounds control. Maintain the yard and balcony.
- Repair damaged windows and doors.
- Ensure structures that could take flight in heavy winds, like pergolas, fences, roofing iron and sheds, are soundly anchored.
- Make sure any exterior structures that may be subject to storm damage are sound, such as patios and pergolas, outdoor steps and handrails, sheds, fences and decks.
- If you keep chemicals or poisons on the premises (e.g. in outdoor sheds), be sure to store them well above ground level in case of flash floods.
Be be prepared. Check your insurance policy is current and adequate.
- Take out cover well in advance. Once a disaster has struck, or is imminent, it’s too late to arrange cover.
- Ensure the policy is up-to-date and the level of cover, including the sums insured, are sufficient.
- Make sure the insurance policy provides cover for the types of events specific to the location of your rental, these may include flash flood, storm water runoff, associated landslip (or landslide) and damage to properties by trees. For example, flood cover is often excluded, but is provided for in all EBM RentCover policies.
- Understand the policy – the inclusions and any exclusions, limitations and excesses applicable. It is also important to understand how the insurer defines certain events like flooding.
- Understand the policyholder’s obligations under cover, such as the loss mitigation clauses (i.e. acting to prevent further damage or loss).
- Keep on top of property maintenance as failure to maintain the premises can void the policy or limit the payout amount.
- Prepare a property inventory (keep copies of proof of ownership off-site).
- Remind tenants that they need their own contents insurance, as your landlord insurance doesn’t cover their possessions.
While you can’t control the weather, you can make sure you have insurance in place in the event that your rental suffers summer storm damage and you suffer losses.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are here, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.
You may also likeView all
We highlight the costliest natural disasters, from an insured losses perspective, in Australia’s history…