Protect your property or business from severe weather events including fires with these precautionary measures to action ahead of a threat and general guides to how to be prepared for emergency conditions.


It's a good idea to address any aspects of risk exposures from severe weather events or natural disasters when you review or renew your insurance cover. Also check with your insurance broker that you have appropriate cover for potential exposures, and that your sums insured are up to date.

Bushfire — quick guide to preparing yourself for a bushfire threat

Bushfires have always been a risk in Australia and higher temperatures with prolonged drought and climate change factors have contributed to conditions that spark hard to control fires, with heat, winds and dry fuel each adding to the higher risk of bushfire impact.

Wherever you are in the country you can ascertain your bushfire attack level (BAL) which classifies your property into risk categories according to your region, surrounding vegetation, surrounding clearance and the slope on the property.

Acting on these bushfire risk preventions should improve your property's risk and is viewed favourably by insurers because it could help protect your assets, your home or business — and in extreme conditions, your life.

What to do to in advance of bushfire season

Take preventative measures before bushfire season starts by ensuring your insurance cover is up to date and that your business property is clear of hazards. It's also advisable to have a clear emergency response plan and a kit packed in case of evacuation alerts. You can find advice about what to include in an emergency kit on most extreme weather or disaster-related websites.

Before fire season starts:

  • review your insurance cover to ensure any recent large purchases are recorded. If you live on a property, check that your fences, gates and outbuildings are included
  • also review your sums insured: are they adequate for a complete rebuild at today's costs?
  • keep your business data backed up regularly
  • consider if other key items or valuable stock could easily be moved to safety?
  • maintain your roof and gutters clear of debris
  • regularly check your roof and seal any gaps to protect against a possible ember attack
  • take precautions regarding flammable materials, moving hazardous substances away from your building
  • have a plan in place for timely evacuation of the premises.

Cyclone — quick guide to protecting yourself in the event of a cyclone

Northern areas of Australia including Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are prone to tropical cyclones and they can occur in other parts of Australia also.

The combination of driving winds and torrential rain are a threat to property and cause loss of revenue from interruption to normal trading or prevention of access.

What to do in advance of cyclone season

Businesses and property owners in areas that are prone to cyclones should have a permanent emergency plan and allow sufficient lead time to maximise protection against cyclone conditions. Also check your insurance cover ahead of cyclone season so you know what it covers and to ensure your replacement values are up to date.

In the instance of a cyclone the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issues tropical cyclone advice when wind gust speeds are expected to exceed 62 kilometres an hour and issues warnings 24 hours ahead of the anticipated onset of gale force winds, advising the intensity of a cyclone on a scale of 1 to 5, based on the wind speed severity.

If you receive a storm warning:

  • park vehicles under cover
  • secure external doors and windows
  • secure external items that could be blown about
  • keep your pre-packed emergency kit with you
  • know your destination, the route you should take and have your vehicle fuelled up and pre-packed
  • check via radio for status updates or new directions.

Flood — quick guide to protecting yourself in the event of a severe flood

In floods conditions can change rapidly, especially in areas prone to flash flooding: low lying land, valleys and natural and manmade waterways. They can be triggered by storm surges or heavy rainfall.

To find out if your area is prone to flooding check your local council or state emergency service records. Also ensure your insurance covers you for flood damage and if not, whether cover is available.

What to do in advance of potential flooding

Flood watch warnings are issued by the BOM and are escalated to a flood evacuation warning when your area and its access routes are under threat. Because of the speed of flood water movement it's important to be aware of the history of flooding in your area and to monitor communications issued by the authorities for directions on the actions you need to take.

Pre-emptive actions could include:

  • maintain drains clear of debris
  • secure heavy items that could cause damage inside and outdoors
  • it may be advisable to turn off electricity, gas and water at the mains
  • move hazardous substances to a higher level
  • relocate equipment, stock and documents to a higher level
  • make copies of essential documents and take them with you in a waterproof container
  • have an emergency evacuation plan and route to safety.

Storms — quick guide to protecting yourself in the event of a severe storm

Severe storms can occur in any part of Australia and may bring thunder and lightning, gale force winds or damaging hail. Strikes involving large hailstones can cause significant damage, especially to roofs, windows and vehicles.

Having an emergency response plan specific to storms is well worthwhile, such as having an emergency generator and key business information backed up to the Cloud. If applicable, check that your insurance cover for property damage includes external buildings, fences and stock.

What to do in advance of a severe storm

Storm warnings are usually issued in advance, allowing time to take protective measures and shelter under cover. Other actions can be taken as part of regular property maintenance.

These might include:

  • maintain roofs and sarking
  • park vehicles under cover
  • protect vehicles and outdoor equipment with secured tarpaulins
  • secure external doors
  • close shutters or window coverings to prevent broken glass blowing inside
  • move exposed stock indoors or make arrangements to protect it
  • it may be advisable to disconnect all electrical items
  • secure loose items outdoors around premises such as business signs
  • prepare an emergency evacuation kit.

Official contacts for help in an emergency or disaster situation

  • Police/Fire/Ambulance: 000
  • SES assistance in floods and storms: 132 500
  • Police attendance: 131 444 (all states except Victoria)
  • Bushfire response
  • Gallagher Australia 24/7 claims 1800 254 287 hotline. Alternatively use our online claims form to lodge a case with us.

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Your insurance broker can help you review your insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage and please get in touch if you need any support.

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Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient's industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers' control.

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