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.