Despite our reputation for generally good weather, in Australia we’re becoming more vulnerable to increasingly intense storms. These are especially so in our long spring and summer months when we’re often on holidays (or dreaming of them) and thinking more about the beach variety of water than it coming from the sky.
Severe storms can occur anywhere in Australia and more frequently than any other major natural hazard.
And with them comes lightning, and on occasions, hail. Heavy rain can cause flash flooding while high winds can damage homes and cars, blow down trees and cause power outages. Although severe thunderstorms are generally localised events, each year on average they’re responsible for more damage (as measured by insurance costs) than tropical cyclones, earthquakes, floods or bushfires.
Consider these six steps to help get storm ready and better prepared for the unexpected and check out NSW SES StormSafe for more practical tips before, during and after a severe storm.
1. Look outside your front door
Those harrowing stormy winds can mean that those items that you use for alfresco dining can instantly cause destruction. Yes, that outdoor umbrella, Webber or kids trampoline can suddenly transform into more dangerous debris. Secure or put away items when not in use (and if you’re on holidays).
2. While you’re outside, don’t forget the gutters and drains
They’re easily forgotten and easily blocked, which can be a nightmare in a severe storm event – especially when the water has no escape route other than your roof cavity or to pool under doorways. When clearing out gutters, take the proper precautions for using a ladder or working on the roof. And don’t forget to regularly check on trees – branches can cause major issues too. Consider trimming to make more wind resistant
3. Don’t forget the homes of your four-legged and two-winged friends
Many people have outdoor homes for their pets, such as kennels and cages. Protect your animals by ensuring that their outside homes are protected in the same way as your home.
4. Consider where you park your car, motorbike or boat.
Try to avoid parking under trees and ensure that bikes and other practical or leisure equipment is secure when not in use. And if you own a boat, check that it is securely moored, or protected on land.
5. Remember that electricity can travel through telephone and cable TV lines
To prevent dangerous power surges, be sure to unplug all the electronics and big appliances during a storm, but also consider turning them off at the socket whenever they're not in use as this may help deliver savings on those nasty power bills too – in fact, that computer screensaver or TV red light can add up to 10 per cent of your electricity bill according to Energy Australia*.
6. Don't forget the paperwork
It’s important to regularly review your insurance policies and make sure they are up to date. For comprehensive car insurance, you can generally choose between an agreed value or market value – the premiums differ so check that the cover is adequate to buy you a similar replacement vehicle. And for home and contents, if you’ve recently undertaken renovations or bought new fixtures and fitting (think lighting, carpet, etc.), make sure these costs are reflected in your sum insured as it’s easy to undervalue your property.
Check out the CGU home and contents calculators and then contact your insurer to up your coverage if needed.
Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 trading as CGU Insurance. Any advice is general only. Consider the relevant PDS available from cgu.com.au to see if a product is right for you.