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How do I prove the cause of the damage?

The more detailed information you get about the deluge, the easier it is to establish the cause of the loss. You should try to gather the following evidence:

  • eyewitness accounts about the time the water entered the house, the level it rose to, where it came from, how it first entered the house (eg through toilets and showers or over land) and if the water level increased in stages or at a steady and uniform rate
  • the position of debris left after the inundation may help indicate the direction of the water flow. This may not be a reliable indicator as the water may have changed direction many times
  • maps showing rainwater drains in the area (you can get a copy from council)
  • maps from the council showing the areas that it views as flood prone
  • contour maps of the district and the height of the house above sea level (you can get these from surveyor’s reports)
  • information from the Bureau of Meteorology about the time and amount of rainfall, and any local variations in the distribution of rainfall in the area
  • information about when any river levels peaked
  • eyewitness accounts about the water’s appearance and colour that may indicate the water’s source
  • if your local council prepared its own report, get a copy photos, videos and other flood records, including home videos and news footage, if possible
  • where the property was near the sea, the influence of any wave action (eg waves caused by emergency rescue vehicles).

Working together can help progress your insurance claim

Floods tend to affect a large number of people in the same area. You could use this to your advantage and:

  • combine information
  • share expenses (eg for expert reports)
  • organise committees to deal directly with insurers
  • ask the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to commission an independent hydrologist’s report as part of reconsidering your community’s insurance claim rejections.

If you don’t agree with your insurer’s hydrologist you may need to obtain your own independent hydrologist’s report. These reports can be expensive so where possible communities should share this cost and share the information among themselves.

How should I negotiate with my insurer?

When negotiating with insurers, it is a good idea to:

  1. Make contact with a senior person within the insurer who has the power to decide the claims. This stops information being relayed from one person to another and ensures you deal directly with the senior person who is the decision maker.
  2. Arrange for reports from experts to be exchanged. Insurers are under no legal obligation to provide you with copies of any reports, but they are under an obligation to provide you with statements as to why your claim has been rejected. This information can help to identify the main points of dispute and help resolve matters quickly.
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