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Protecting properties during summer storms
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Protecting properties during summer storms

04 Oct 2021 5 mins read

The image of an Aussie summer is one of scorching hot days, languid nights, sunrises and sunsets over vast oceans, barbeques, white sandy beaches, blue skies, and alfresco living…

Summer may well be all those things, but it is also slap bang in the middle of disaster season (November to April).

As the temperature warms storms do not take a summer holiday. In fact, some of the most devastating storms and flooding occur in summer, especially along the east coast.

Accompanied by torrential rain, destructive winds, large hailstones and lightning, which can cause flash flooding, unroof buildings and damage trees or power lines, severe storms can cause major damage.

On average, severe storms are responsible for more damage, measured by insurance costs, than tropical cyclones, earthquakes, floods or bushfires.

In fact, last disaster season (Nov-Apr), EBM RentCover received 452 storm-related claims valued at $1.634m.

So before spring segues into summer, take the time to make sure your investment property is ready for stormy weather.

Here is a five-step plan:

Step one: Fix the roof

  • Get the roof checked for leaks and other damage. Ask the roofer to pay particular attention around chimneys, skylights and vents.
  • Have the flashings and valleys checked for blockages and rust.
  • Fix any cracked, broken or displaced tiles.  
  • Patch or replace damaged roof sheeting.
  • Have any built-up dirt removed as it can block the drainage channels on the underside of the tiles.
  • Check there are no damaged bricks or cracked joints on flues and chimneys.
  • Inspect the inside of the roof space. Light shining through may indicate that the roof or sarking (waterproof insulation membrane) is damaged.
  • Inspect the ceilings and walls for signs of leaks. Look for seeping around vents and chimneys.
  • Have the roof inspected by an expert tradesperson every 5-7 years to identify and remedy issues such as re-pointing, re-bedding and replacing the ridge or hip caps. 

Step two: 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. 
  • Drains should be clear of blockages and free-flowing. As unsightly as they are, make sure pot-plants are not placed over drainage grates.
  • Channel water to drain away from the property – install soakwells and grade the yard away from the home.

Step three: Trim trees and branches 

  • Have a professional prune overhanging trees and branches on your property so they can’t fall on the home or power lines.
  • Check with your local council about any guidelines or required consent applications.
  • 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.
  • Have a qualified arborist inspect trees every 2-3 years to identify any preventative action necessary.

Step four: Maintain the yard and balcony

  • Damaged windows and doors should be repaired.
  • Ensure structures that could take flight in heavy winds, like pergolas, fences, above-ground pools, trampolines, 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.

Step five: Check your insurance policy is current and adequate

  • Take out cover well in advance. Once a disaster has struck, or is imminent, it is too late to arrange appropriate cover.
  • Ensure the policy is up-to-date and the level of cover, including sum insured, is 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 (e.g. 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).

Top tip: If you need to make a claim due to storm damage, one of the key factors that can determine whether you will be covered by your insurance is the standard of property maintenance. Damage from neglect is a general exclusion in most home and contents and/or landlord policies.

Although you can’t control the elements, you can prepare your investment property for rough weather. And you can also make sure you have insurance in place if your rental does suffer summer storm damage and you suffer losses – not just from damage but also potentially loss of rent.

*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 there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.

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