Let’s face it. At any given time, Australia is either flooding, or on fire. Or both.
Some areas can experience a drought, followed by a fire, followed by a flood. We’ve had so many cyclones by this point, we must surely be getting close to running out of names for them.
So, with natural disasters being such a frequent occurrence, learning how to manage the financial fallout from a disaster is a must. And with insurance companies being hard to squeeze money out of at the best of times, what happens when disaster strikes, and your claim is just one of hundreds?
Below are some tips for making sure you get paid out by your insurance company in the event disaster strikes.
1. Get hustling!
Insurance companies often deal with claims on a “first come, first served” basis.
Dealing with your insurance company might be the last thing on your mind if faced with flood waters or serious damage to your home or property. However, putting this off even for a few days could put you behind hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the payout queue. So start your claim immediately!
2. An incomplete claim is better than no claim.
Again, expedience immediately following a disaster is crucial. This means it can be better to get your claim in quickly, even if you then need to add extra documents or evidence later on. You will be placed much higher up in the queue, and have your claim dealt with much faster, than if you wait until you have gathered every single document you think is needed before submitting your claim.
3. Get smart with your smart phone.
So long as you haven’t lost your smart phone in the disaster, it will now prove invaluable in helping to get you paid. When signing up to an insurance plan, we recommend electronically documenting all insured items that very day, simply by taking photos on a smartphone, and saving these photos in a dedicated folder. If this has been done before disaster hits, they can easily be forwarded when submitting a claim.
If this hasn’t been done, there are still other options. You can always go through your phone’s photo album to see if you have taken photos of your belongings incidentally in the background of photos. Sometimes even friends and family may have photos of your items in their Facebook or other social media accounts. A quick look could end up saving you hundreds of dollars in items you may have otherwise forgotten about, or not been able to prove existed.
4. Use apps to your advantage.
Many insurers now have apps where you can make a claim on your phone at the point of the accident, and lodge these photos directly using the app. This can be done even while sitting on your kitchen table surrounded by floodwaters (again, so long as you haven’t lost your smart phone)!
There are also apps where you can record your home and property inventory, designed specifically to ensure you recover your assets. If you’d prefer a simple note-taking app to keep records of the disaster as it unfolds, there are also plenty of those.
5. Plan for the next disaster NOW.
For some, it may be too late for any of this at this stage. But if you’ve watched the news about the cyclone and haven’t actually been affected by it, there is still time to get smart ahead of time – because you never ever know when the unexpected will arise.
Speak to a financial advisor and get the appropriate insurance plans in place before disaster strikes. This could end up saving you a whole world of heartache!
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Katrina Haskew is Managing Director of Leading Advice.
Excerpts from this blog were also featured in News.com.au, Daily Telegraph, Courier-Mail, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, and The Mercury.