Floods – sadly, many Australians and their properties are bearing the brunt of Mother Nature. This means an influx of inquiries are hitting agents.
Many of the questions relate to insurance and claims. We chatted to Sharon Fox-Slater, Managing Director of landlord insurance specialist EBM RentCover, to find the answer to your common questions…
How do I support a landlord who is caught up in the floods?
First, make sure the landlord and tenants are safe. This is a priority.
Then, check the landlord’s policy to see if they are covered for flood. Knowing cover is in place will provide a bit of peace of mind for the landlord – and agent. If the landlord is not covered, at least you (the agent) and landlord know what to expect.
Next, it is important that landlords don’t enter a home that is impacted by a natural disaster until emergency services gives the go-ahead and deems the property safe to enter.
This guidance should be passed on from agent to landlord and tenant.
Once the property is safe to enter, the below steps should be taken (by landlord or agent):
- Do a safety walkthrough and take steps to prevent further loss or damage.
- Contact the insurer – as soon as the insurer knows there is an issue, the sooner they can help.
- Take photos and capture evidence of the damage and loss.
- Seek quotes for repairs.
- Get a report from the repairer.
- Submit a claim.
Who makes the claim – the agent or landlord?
The agent can submit the claim on behalf of the landlord. At EBM RentCover, we have a dedicated online agent portal that allows agents to apply, manage and claim online.
When should a claim be submitted?
It is recommended that landlords (or their agent) contact insurers as soon as possible to let them know if a property has been impacted by a natural disaster.
Even if the full extent of the damage is not known, insurers can advise on the claims process and may have resources to support landlords and agents during what is a challenging time.
How long does a flood claim take to settle?
It is hard to give a definitive answer to this question. While insurers try to settle claims as quickly as possible, sometimes things happen that derail the best of intentions.
Currently, there are delays to claims settling because of:
- Labour shortages – with Australia’s historically low unemployment rate, there are simply not enough people on the ground to tackle the high amount of claims (think loss adjusters and experienced claims specialists). Building and trades have felt the labour shortages even more so than insurers, meaning there are less people available to carry out the work that is a result of damage by floods.
- Material shortages – repairs are being delayed as the materials needed aren’t available. In some cases, it isn’t only building materials that are in short supply but other goods too, so replacing lost contents may also take longer.
- Extreme weather events – when large-scale events like the current floods occur, there is increased demand for insurance and building services. This makes it even harder to get access to a loss adjuster or trades, leading to longer repair and replacement times.
How do I streamline the claims process?
It doesn’t matter how long you have been in the real estate industry, submitting claims can sometimes be stressful for agents.
There is a fear you won’t be able to recoup enough costs for your landlord to cover the damage, or that a claim is going to be rejected all together.
Here are some steps agents should take to streamline the process…
- Before you submit a claim on behalf of your landlord, you should understand what you legally can and can’t do. There are strict rules and regulations that underpin the insurance and real estate industries, so being on top of legislation is vital. If you are an agent partner of EBM RentCover, we can train you and your agents on the dos and don’ts.
- Now you know your obligations, you can help the landlord to submit a claim. One of the first things you should do is support the landlord to take reasonable steps to prevent further loss or damage. This could include boarding windows or laying a tarp on the roof.
- To submit a successful insurance claim you need to establish and show a loss has occurred. You can do this by providing photos or video evidence of the damage before the clean-up to submit to the insurer.
- Gather all the documentation you need to submit a claim. Depending on the type of claim, you may need to submit: a completed claim form, quotes for repairs (typically two), a report from the repairer (a causation report), property inspection report and a copy of the tenancy agreement.
My landlord wants to take out cover, but an embargo is in place – what does this mean?
Embargoes on insurance policies are normal practice and usually take effect when events like fires, flood or cyclones are likely to impact an area.
Currently there are many embargoes in place in flood-affected areas. This is because the risk is either already occurring or imminent, and insurance policies do not typically offer cover for known or likely events.
Embargoes ultimately prevent people buying insurance when risks are high because these people are more likely to make a claim.
Usually once the threat of flood has passed and the risk is reduced, embargoes are lifted, and cover can once again be taken out.
To avoid being caught out by an embargo, landlords should purchase cover well in advance of disaster season and avoid allowing a policy to lapse.
Rest assured – EBM RentCover clients who already have cover leading into a flood are not impacted by embargoes. That means they are covered for flood (as long as their claim meets the terms and conditions of their policy).