Prepare now for imminent fire season urges RACV

As the first heatwave of the summer triggered Victoria’s first total fire ban day of the season today, RACV is urging all property owners to be prepared and ensure their homes are adequately insured.

Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) is warning Victoria faces a potentially devastating bushfire season with consistent rain throughout spring increasing vegetation growth. EMA says the prolific growth means there will be even more fuel to burn in the hot summer months.

RACV General Manager Insurance, Mark Geraghty is encouraging property owners to take steps to protect their properties.

“The experts are telling us the bushfire outlook indicates above average fire risk this year.  Because of the considerable grass growth it is critical property owners be prepared.

“The wet weather may have delayed bushfire preparations but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Now that we’re getting a few warmer days, the undergrowth will dry off very quickly and it should be cleared as soon as possible.”

Mr Geraghty encouraged property owners to carefully map out a bushfire plan and to double check they hold appropriate and sufficient insurance.

“Victorians in both regional and urban areas should act now because once a fire starts it might be too late to update your insurance policy or take out a new one. Our data has revealed that often large bushfires occur in areas that may not have experienced a bushfire for some three to five years.

“Although most RACV bushfire-related insurance claims over the past three years were between December and February; blazes can break out any time from early spring,” he said.

December was the worst month for bushfires last year with RACV receiving 128 claims, which totalled almost $20 million. In total, RACV Insurance paid bushfire claims totalling $21 million in 2015-16, with an average cost of $142,689.

Lightning started the season’s most destructive bushfire in the Otway National Park on 19 December last year. It raged for 34 days and destroyed 116 houses in Wye River and Separation Creek while 2,500 hectares of dense forest was consumed by flames.

“Under-insurance is common because people often underestimate the value of their possessions and how much it would cost to rebuild a home and any outbuildings after a fire.  Knowing that your home and contents are adequately insured will offer some peace of mind should the worst happen.

“RACV’s online calculators can make this task easier by helping estimate the value of buildings and contents but it is also important to consider new building regulations and the impact they would have on the cost to rebuild,” Mr Geraghty said.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) provides comprehensive advice on how to learn more about high-risk bushfire areas, how to prepare your property and create a Bushfire Plan. Go to cfa.vic.gov.au or call 1800 240 667. RACV sponsors Victoria’s Fire Awareness Awards.

 

VICTORIAN BUSHFIRE INSURANCE CLAIMS: TOP 10 AREAS

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

3-YEAR TOTAL

Colac Otway Shire

 

2

94

96

Macedon Ranges Shire

49

2

10

61

Hume City

35

 

2

37

Horsham Rural City

28

   

28

Mornington Peninsula Shire

 

20

2

22

Latrobe City

20

1

1

22

Mitchell Shire

16

   

16

Indigo Shire

   

14

14

Ballarat City

   

11

11

Ararat Rural City

 

9

 

9

VICTORIA TOTAL

181

44

148

373

 

THINGS TO DO NOW AHEAD OF THE BUSHFIRE SEASON

  • Find out if you live, work or travel through a bushfire risk area by going to cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/am-I-at-risk/
  • Ensure you have a comprehensive Bushfire Plan. For help to develop one, visit cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/your-bushfire-plan/
  • Check your insurance. Online calculators at racv.com.au can help you estimate your required level of cover.
  • Decide which Fire Danger Rating will be your trigger to leave, and whether you will leave early in the morning or the night before.
  • Decide which route to take and what you will do if a fire is already in the area.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes important documents, medications, protective clothing, a woollen blanket and a battery powered radio, torch and spare batteries.
  • Download the free FireReady app for smartphones and tablet computers for weather warnings and information about what to do during a fire.

 

During the Fire Danger Period

  • Keep grass short and vegetation and leaf litter to a minimum.
  • Monitor the Fire Danger Rating and conditions daily.
  • Check for warnings, especially on hot, dry and windy days.

RACV Home Insurance is issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Limited ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying. For a copy call 13 RACV (13 7228).

Written by Liselotte Geary, RACV Public Affairs, 9790 2717
November 22, 2016