WITH wild weather conditions already wreaking havoc across the state, insurer GIO is urging local residents to take precautions to prepare for what this summer has in store.
GIO spokesman Stephen Bell said the October bushfires and recent storms in Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and even the Greater Sydney region were a reminder of how intense conditions could become.
"Whether you're protecting your home from a bushfire or storm, safety should be your number one priority," Mr Bell said.
"The Australian summer can be unforgiving and this year will be no different. As the recent bushfires and storms have shown, the impact of such events can be devastating to families and their properties," Mr Bell said.
With more than 90 years experience in protecting and supporting NSW families and communities in times of severe weather, GIO offers automatic flood and storm cover for customers, but local residents are still encouraged to check their insurance policies and know what is and isn't covered.
"Don't just hope you're covered, know you're covered," Mr Bell advised. "Ask questions of your insurer if you're not certain. You should also make sure your home and contents insurance are up to date - it will save you time, money and a lot of stress in the long run.
"It's also a good idea to keep an updated list of your possessions, including make and model numbers as this will help in the event you have to make a claim," he said.
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Simple precautions to help protect the family and home:
- Pack away loose items in the yard - bikes, furniture, gas bottles, ornaments etc. A lot of damage is caused by flying debris.
- Secure doors and windows and stay clear of windows in high winds. Make sure you know where the safest place in the house is, such as an inner hallway or bathroom.
- Clear gutters and downpipes and check the roof for damaged or loose tiles or corrugated sheets. A lot of damage is caused by water entering damaged roofs.
- Trim any overgrown branches near your house. Check with your local council if you're unsure which trees or branches you can safely cut.
- Do not attempt to trim trees near powerlines - alert your local council.
- If you're living in an area that is at risk of a bushfire, GIO advises having an evacuation plan in place. Pack a survival kit with essentials, store important documents in a secure and watertight container and ensure your car is in good working order and fuelled in case you need to evacuate.
- "Bushfires can be notoriously unpredictable. Conditions can change without warning so it's essential that residents are prepared and listen to advice from their local emergency services.
- "At the end of the day, having a plan and being prepared can go a long way to protect not only your home and possessions, but also your family," Mr Bell said.
- GIO customers affected by storms, bushfires or other weather events should phone the Claims Assist team on 131446 to lodge a claim. Alternatively, customers can also make their claim online and a Customer Claims Consultant will phone within 24 hours to complete the process.
For more information on how to prepare for bushfire or storm season visit www.gio.com.au.
Brought to you by GIO Insurance.
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