Bill's Media Releases

Calls for Safety following devastating NE Victorian storms

The Minister for Financial Services Bill Shorten has today called for people to make safety their first priority during this period of extreme weather across parts of North East Victoria.

The towns of Koonoomoo, Cobram, Yarrawonga, Bundalong, Mulwala and Rutherglen have been particularly hard hit.

The SES received more than 150 calls for help in the region, and about 1000 from across the state.

After personal safety considerations are met, people should be mindful of important matters concerning the protection of their property and their rights.

“Our thoughts are with the people of the Murray Valley communities, especially those who have experienced serious injuries as a result of these devastating events,” Mr Shorten said.

"In the event of a natural disaster, personal safety is always the first priority.  Where people need to leave their property to ensure their safety and that of their families, they should return only when emergency services declare it safe to do so" the Minister said.

Emergency Services in each State or Territory can be reached on 000.  State Emergency Services can be reached nationally on 132 500.

"It's important to remember though that these numbers are for emergencies only and not general enquiries."

Again, it is important for rapid recovery from events such as these that the insurance industry exercises diligence and compassion. 

“As in the case of all the natural disasters we’ve seen over the last couple of years, the Government and I will work closely with the insurance industry in an effort to achieve the best outcome for people affected,” Mr Shorten said.

“Insurers have already advised they are beginning to receive hundreds of claims, many of which they consider major.”

In the event that it becomes necessary to make a claim, the Insurance Council of Australia has some advice for consumers:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to check what your policy includes or excludes. 

  • In order to facilitate the claims process, take pictures of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim.

  • Remove and discard any damaged goods that pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings.

  • Keep samples of materials and fabrics to show the assessor.

  • Make a list of each item and include a detailed description, such as brand, model and serial number.

  • Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe.

  • Speak to your insurer before authorising repairs. Emergency repairs should be undertaken only in the first instance to make the property safe.

  • Do not be concerned if you can't find your insurance papers. Insurers have electronic records and need only your name and address.

  • General insurance inquiries.  If you're not sure about which insurer you're with, or have general inquiries about the claims process, call the ICA disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.


The ICA has storm and bushfire preparation checklists available at:

http://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/for-consumers/consumer-tips

"It's important to remember that your insurance company is there to provide a level of protection to you and has certain obligations it is required to fulfil. If you are unhappy with the service your insurer provides you can begin an internal dispute resolution," the Minister said.

  • Insurance claim disputes.

  • Before commencing internal dispute resolution (IDR), you may wish to seek legal advice to assist you in completing the relevant documentation.  The following organisations may be able to assist:

  • Insurance Law Service (national): 1300 663 464

  • Your State or Territory’s Legal Aid Office


 

  • If you cannot achieve a satisfactory outcome by IDR – you may appeal the insurer's decision through the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

  • The FOS can provide you with accessible, independent external dispute resolution that is binding on your insurer.

  • You can contact the FOS on 1300 78 08 08.


Minister Shorten’s media contact: Sam Casey 0421 697 660