Bill's Media Releases

Safety First During Floods

The Minister for Financial Services Bill Shorten today called for people to put safety first during this time of increased risk due to serious flooding in Victoria.  He has also called on insurers to meet their obligations with proper consideration to families.

Localised flash flooding has occurred in central and south Gippsland, a landslide has occurred on the Mornington Peninsula, king tides are expected at Lakes Entrance and parts of Traralgon have been evacuated after the Traralgon Creek peaked at 5.3 metres. The Barwon River through Geelong has also breached its banks.

'Residents who evacuate should only return to their property when emergency services declare it safe to do so," Bill Shorten said.

State Emergency Services for Victoria can be reached on 132 500.

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

The Minister has also called on insurers to exercise diligence and compassion during this difficult time.

'I note that the insurance industry has recently made changes to their Code of Practice which now provides for greater protections for policyholders following natural disaster events" Mr Shorten said.

When it comes to processing 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 water or mud-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

'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 fulfill. If you are unhappy with the service your insurer provides you can begin an internal dispute resolution," Mr Shorten said.

  • Insurance claim disputes.

    • Before commencing internal dispute resolution (IDR), you may wish to contact legal aid in your state jurisdiction to assist you in completing the relevant documentation.

      • Insurance Law Service: 1300 663 464

      • NSW Legal Aid: 1300 888 529

      • Victoria Legal Aid: (03) 9269 0120 or
        for country callers 1800 677 402

      • Legal Aid Queensland: 1300 651 188

      • Legal Aid ACT: 1300 654 314

    • 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.