The North Island of New Zealand has been absolutely battered by storms, flooding, and tidal surges, with devastating results as we kick off 2023. Making sure you have the right insurance when you need it most is important – although we know it’s one of those expenses you pay for in the hopes to never use it. We hope your friends and whānau are safe and sound.
Most families and households spend their days and nights focused on getting through the storm rather than getting familiar with their insurance policies. Knowing what you are covered for, and how to get it properly, can help to speed up the process when it comes to claiming on your insurance policy and rebuilding your empire.
How do I get covered for insurance?
First of all, reach out to an insurance provider or an insurance broker. Usually insurance (car insurance, contents insurance, house insurance, even life insurance) can’t be purchased retroactively. If there is a storm coming up, make sure to get yourself covered before it hits. Typically, a form or a series of forms will be filled out as you go through the process to get covered where you share your information with a trusted party. An insurance broker will manage the process for you, and will either set up a meeting with you to chat through what options you may have after filling out a form, or they will run through the form with you.
Why do I need insurance?
Insurance is the ultimate future-proofing platform. Instead of digging into any savings to rebuild your assets, you simply should be able to file a claim to the insurer. New Zealand Aotearoa has had some serious natural disasters happen over the last year, increasing premiums by up to 17%. For those who are living paycheck to paycheck, these expensive premiums can be the difference between getting enough at the supermarket that week or not. But we really recommend it. Even if you are insuring the most basic of your assets, every little bit helps.
Insurance is the best thing to protect you from losing everything you have worked hard to achieve: from your home, your new car, or your phone! Your life is the single most important thing you can cover, especially with how unpredictable it is.
If my house or contents have been damaged, what do I do with my insurance?
Make the house safe first and foremost. Then, before doing anything, reach out to your insurer or your insurance broker. Check in with them to see if you can do any mild repairs to make the house liveable. Take photos of the house before the storm in as much detail as you can to ensure you are properly covered. Then you can take photos after and show a comparison. Keep a running inventory before the storm hits, including any receipts to help speed the process along.
If you have an insurance broker or insurance adviser, they will be able to guide you through the process or manage it almost entirely on behalf of you.
Below is a list of things you should do once you have been insured for your house, car, and contents. Take photos of everything, and ensure it is time stamped – usually this shows up on your phone. Keep receipts of your expensive items as well, even if they are emailed to you. This shows proof of ownership and protects you in the event of an emergency should things be damaged.
How do I take photos of the damage?
In the ‘after’ stage, when it’s safe, check the property, house, and car for any damage. Take pictures of everything with multiple angles that could have been damaged by the wind, power cuts, flooding, or even any spoiled food.
Guidance from the IFSO (Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman), some key photographs to include are:
- Your mailbox – this confirms the location
- Front, sides, and back of your home and any other buildings on your property (like a shed, single unit, etc.)
- Any damaged items or contents in or around these buildings
- Models or serial numbers where possible on the damaged contents – really important if you have specified amounts for your claim
- Land damage which could include river damage, culverts, drainage, etc.
- There should be a distinct line where flood water reached its highest point within your property
Photos and receipts are the most important part to show proof of ownership. If not, unfortunately an insurer has the right to decline your claim as there is no evidence – even if you provide them a list of all of what you own.
What do I do in the event of an emergency with my insurance?
Focus on getting through the event and prioritise your safety. After a natural disaster or an event, it is understandable the insurance companies will be crammed with claims. Follow safety protocols provided by the authorities before making any changes or entering your home again. Get your essential services, like water, sewerage, power, and gas repaired and keep a copy of any invoices or quotes provided. Clean up as much as you can in the first instance, take your photos, and then focus on getting the house in liveable condition.
There are plenty of resources online that you can follow in order to make a healthy and stable living situation for you and your family.
Insurance is all around protection from the unexpected. A storm is unexpected, flooding is unexpected, and so are any untimely and devastating deaths from any natural disaster or emergency event. While this may be something you pay a premium for with the hopes you never use it, if something were to happen, make sure you have peace of mind.
We recommend going to an insurance adviser or an insurance broker as they will make sure you are covered for exactly what you need. Not to mention, they’re a great help when you’re trying to make sense of all of the policy wording – sometimes they’re really long!