Prepping and protecting your business this bushfire season

While the promise of warmer weather spells days at the beach and backyard BBQs, spring and summer can sadly also bring bushfires.

Business owners can get ahead of the risks by putting a protection plan in place for property and assets.

Why do we get bushfires?

Despite a rain-soaked winter, the risk of bushfires is high this spring and summer. Ironically, this is partly due to all that wet weather.

More rain means more vegetation growth. As temperatures soar and that abundance of grass and crops dry out, so the risk of bushfires increase.

Tip: If your property is within a bushfire prone area, you can reduce risk by keeping grass and vegetation cut short, clear gutters of leaves, and removing any flammable chemicals or materials from the property.

Have a safety and evacuation plan

If you live or work in a bushfire prone area, you should already have an evacuation plan in place, but it’s always worth updating and refreshing protocols as we head into the risky season.

In the event a bushfire happens, make sure all staff know who is in charge (this can be via a different coloured vest or hard hat and fire evacuation drills), when to leave and what to take. Keep critical business documents in a fire-resistant safe, so you can concentrate on the plan to get you and your team to safety.

Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute. Review these plans throughout the year and involve everyone who works on-site, including subcontractors who visit your site.

Early risk reduction and preparation

If you or your business are ever affected by bushfires, you may need to make an insurance claim, and there are steps you can take now to make that process easier.

Keeping an inventory of assets is key. A written list (stored somewhere off-site), date-stamped photographs, or a video recording of each room, are all good ways to provide evidence.

Businesses rely on data, so don’t forget to safeguard your documents and information from potential fire damage. The best way to do this is by having a digital record of all data, which is backed up and stored in the cloud. Remember to install regular updates and back-up reminders so your files are up to date.

Tip: Keeping a safe record of your data won’t only make your life easier should your business be disrupted. It will help keep clients and customers happy as you’ll be able to provide a quick return to daily operations.

Watch out for common exclusions

Having insurance to protect your business and property in case of bushfire is a great first step. But it’s important to make sure you have the right kind of cover, and you are adequately protected.

Read your PDS or policy wording. A PDS is for a retail client only. Fire damage to a business is not retail insurance. This part of your policy will outline what you are, and aren’t, covered for in the event of a bushfire.

Comparing your policy with others can also help. This can be a time-consuming process, which is where we can help. We know the ins and outs of policies and can help make sure you have the right coverage to suit your business needs.

Tip: If you’re feeling unsure or overwhelmed, don’t do nothing and leave your business open to risk. Speak with us to check your policy and make sure you are properly protected.

When am I not insured?

Usually insurance for damage caused by fire will only apply when there are actual flames, meaning you may not be covered for any heat, soot, smoke or ash damage. There is usually a time limit (72 days) after the policy commences before cover is available in respect of bushfires. This means you shouldn’t wait until the bushfire is coming over the hill before taking out cover.

Tip: The cost of building materials and development rise over time, so you need to make sure your property is insured for what it would cost to rebuild today, not what it was worth when you bought it. This online calculator for home and contents can help you get the maths right.

The single greatest protection

Insurance brokers/Advisers may be the single most important investment you can make in protecting your business and assets this bushfire season.

Policies can be tricky to understand and time-consuming to read through, but it’s imperative to make sure you are properly covered as we approach what can be a truly devastating period for people, homes and businesses.

If you have questions or concerns relating to what kind of cover you should have, if your current policy is fully protecting you, or how to manage claims in a crisis, reach out to us today.