The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has activated its significant event response plan following the South Australia severe storms being declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) on 29 October 2021 and the Victoria and Tasmania severe storms being declared a catastrophe on 1 November 2021. The significant event response plan is activated for events that can potentially result in significant numbers of related complaints coming to AFCA. It provides for early communication with relevant stakeholders and a more streamlined, expedited process for the resolution of related complaints.
Have you been affected?
If you have been affected by the South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania October 2021 severe storms, we encourage you to contact your insurance company.
For help with the claims process, or if you are unable to contact your insurance company, please call the Insurance Council of Australia disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.
How we can help you
AFCA offers free and accessible dispute resolution services to consumers and small businesses impacted by this event. If you have raised a complaint with your insurance company but you have been unable to resolve the matter, you can then come to us for assistance. Please note, we are only able to consider your complaint once you have raised the matter with your insurer.
If you encounter difficulties relating to your insurance claims which you are unable to resolve directly with your insurer, you can register your complaint with us using our online complaint form or by calling 1800 931 678. More information about the process we follow to resolve complaints is available on our website.
People affected by natural disasters can experience both short-term and long-term financial difficulties, ranging from lost credit cards and problems accessing cash through to being unable to make loan repayments. Banks and other financial services providers generally provide assistance to customers in cases of genuine hardship.
If you encounter difficulties relating to a financial hardship application, you can make a complaint to us online, or call us on 1800 931 678.
More information on natural disasters and financial hardship can be found in this factsheet.
Please make sure you notify us that you have been affected by the South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania October 2021 severe storms when you make your complaint.
Insurance claims – cooling off period
The General Insurance Code of Practice Catastrophes section provides for a cooling offer period for claims arising from a natural catastrophe or disaster. If your insurer is a member of the General Insurance Code of Practice (the Code) and it finalised your claim within one month of a natural catastrophe or disaster, you have a six-month cooling off period to check whether your claim included everything that was lost or damaged. The cooling off period is available to you even though you may have signed a release when your claim was finalised.
If you think the assessment of your loss was not complete or accurate, contact your insurer and ask for it to review your claim.
Some insurers also have guidelines which allow a review of your claim arising from a natural disaster at any time after finalisation.
Find out if your insurer is a member of the Code.
Other places to get help
Community Legal Centres South Australia Inc. (CLCSA) is the peak body for all Community Legal Centres in South Australia. CLC are independent, not- for-profit organisations which provide legal advice, casework, referrals and legal representation to members of the community.
Disaster Legal Help is a joint initiative between six legal service organisations to provide free information and support for Victorians affected by disasters. You can contact Disaster Legal Help by calling 1800 113 432. More information about Disaster Legal Help can be found on the Victorian Legal Aid website.
Tasmania Legal Aid is a statutory body set up by the Legal Aid Commission Act 1990 (Tas). They provide legal advice, representation, family dispute resolution services and legal education to the Tasmanian community.
Anyone struggling financially due to flooding or storm damage can contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visit ndh.org.au.
Small business owners and sole traders can call the Small Business Debt Helpline on 1800 413 828 or visit sbdh.org.au. Financial counsellors provide free, confidential and independent advice. They can look at what options a business owner or individual has following a disaster.
Insurance Council of Australia: flood and storm damage advice
What to do when you return to your property following a flood or storm:
- Safety is the priority - don’t do anything that puts anyone at risk
- Only return to your property when emergency services give the go ahead
- If water has entered the property, don't turn on your electricity until it has been inspected by an electrician
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to lodge a claim and seek guidance on the claims process
- You can start cleaning up but first take pictures or videos of damage to the property and possessions as evidence for your claim
- Keep samples of materials and fabrics to show your insurance assessor
- Remove water or mud-damaged goods from your property that might pose a health risk, such as saturated carpets and soft furnishings
- Make a list of each item damaged and include a detailed description, such as brand, model and serial number if possible
- Store damaged or destroyed items somewhere safe
- Speak to your insurer before you attempt or authorise any building work, including emergency repairs, and ask for the insurer’s permission in writing. Unauthorised work may not be covered by your policy
- Do not throw away goods that could be salvaged or repaired.