Legal and insurance support for people affected by floods
NSW residents affected by severe weather and floods can access information about legal services and insurance claims.
The Disaster Response Legal Service is a specialist service of Legal Aid NSW. It can help you with everyday legal problems that can arise after a disaster, like:
- insurance claims and disputes
- employment and your rights at work
- financial hardship
- unpaid fines
- Centrelink issues.
Replacing family law documents
If your divorce order, current orders or other family law documents have been lost or destroyed, you can get a free replacement copy at a family law registry. Find out more at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
For free legal help with insurance claims and disputes visit the Disaster Response Legal Service.
Insurance support and resources are also available through the Insurance Law Service.
Submitting an insurance claim
If your insurance documents have been lost or damaged contact your insurance company. It will have a copy of your policy.
Depending on your situation, your level of cover and what you are claiming, flood cover may come under:
- home and contents insurance
- car insurance
- accident, sickness or income protection insurance
- life insurance, including any insurance taken out through your superannuation.
Contact your insurer as soon as possible. They’ll be able to tell you:
- what you’re covered for
- what their claims process is
- any excess amounts you’ll need to pay.
After you submit a claim, an assessor will inspect the damage and determine if it’s covered under your policy.
Check with your insurer before making or arranging any repairs. Your policy may not cover unauthorised repairs.
Your insurer will tell you:
- what documentation or evidence of damage you’ll need before you start the clean-up
- what damaged items you’ll need to keep until the assessment.
Make sure you:
- take photos or videos of damaged property and belongings
- make a list of all damage. Include as much detail as possible, such as brand, model and serial number
- don’t throw away items unless they are a hazard, like water-damaged carpets and soft furnishings
- take reasonable steps to prevent any further damage.
The insurance assessor will normally work with you to get quotes and decide whether building or belongings should be repaired or replaced.
Your insurer is responsible for the quality of the repairs or a replacement.
How long a claim takes
The General Insurance Code of Practice sets timeframes for how long a claim should take to process.
Depending on the situation, an insurer will usually make a decision within 4 months of receiving the claim. It can take up to 12 months if an extraordinary catastrophe or disaster has been declared.
You can apply to fast track your claim if you need urgent financial help. Ask your insurer how to do this and what documents you’ll need to prove financial hardship.
If your claim is fast tracked, your insurer can make an advance payment. This amount will be deducted from your total claim payout.
What to do if you’re offered a cash settlement
You may be offered a cash settlement. This means the insurer pays you the value of the claim instead of paying for repairs or replacements.
You'll have to decide if a cash settlement is the right option for you. It's important to:
- know if you are settling part or all the claim
- make sure all damage is included under the offer. Any damage found after settlement will not be covered
- understand you’ll be responsible for organising repairs
- assess if the offer will cover the cost of repairs and the replacement of damaged property and belongings
- confirm if your insurance policy will end after settlement.
If your insurance policy does not cover flood damage
Not all insurance policies cover claims due to floods. Your policy will show whether flood cover is part of your insurance. If you’re unsure, check with your insurer.
If you do not have flood cover your policy may still cover you for damage. You’ll need to prove any damage was caused by an event covered by your policy, like storm or rainwater damage.
Learn more about the difference between flood, storm and rainwater damage and your claim at the Insurance Law Service.
You can also find out more about choosing home insurance at Moneysmart.
If you want to make a complaint
You can make a complaint if your claim is rejected, or you disagree with the outcome.
The first step is to contact your insurer and find out what its complaints process is.
You can also get legal advice the Insurance Law Service.
Decisions about your complaint are usually made within 30 days. You will be notified in writing of the reason for the decision.
If you are not happy with this outcome, you can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
If your insurance claim has been refused, you can learn more about your options from the Insurance Law Service.