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Being financially prepared for Bushfire Season

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We’re moving into that time of the year again – on one hand we are welcoming the warm weather and on the other hand, some of us are preparing for the bushfire season.

Areas stretching from south-eastern South Australia to the north of Rockhampton in Queensland, as well as the south-western corner of Western Australia, are getting ready for what has been forecast to be a busier than usual fire season,* due to an unfortunate combination of lower than average rainfalls as well as the strengthening El Nino.

Most businesses that have been through a bushfire season will have their bushfire survival plan for their business ready and will be doing what they can to minimise the physical impact of a fire. Now is also a good time for businesses to check their insurance to ensure they have adequate cover to survive financially if they are impacted by a bushfire.

A quick check of policies to ensure premiums have been paid and importantly that there is enough cover could save a lot of heartache and stress, particularly because relying on government or community assistance may not be enough to rebuild your business.

If you own your premises, you will want to ensure that the level of cover that you have will be enough to rebuild or restore your premises back to its former state.

Ensure you also have enough cover to replace your contents. You may not want cover to replace the old couch in reception but you are more than likely to want to be able to replace things like office furniture, IT/Technology equipment, machinery, stock and other valuables.

You should also ensure you have a full inventory of contents and proof of ownership, as this will be required should you need to make a claim. Receipts, tax invoice, inventory logs and photographs are good ways to prove ownership. Keep copies of your critical documentation in a portable fireproof container and perhaps also an electronic copy off site.

It may take months or even years after the fire to get your business back to a fully operational state.  Even if your business was not directly damaged by the fire, interruption to local infrastructure and other services could mean that you are not fully operational for days or even weeks, impacting your ability to earn an income.

“The 2013 bushfires saw a lot of businesses impacted in the Blue Mountains. Luckily we have a strong and supportive community that helped pull together to get through this. However sadly many businesses in the area struggled financially they realised they were under insured.  This reinforces the importance of having enough cover to get your business back on its feet.  Since then we’ve been working with the community and several programmes have been run throughout the Mountains to help mitigate this issue and ensure businesses are adequately covered.” Vent Thomas – President of the Blue Mountains Business Chamber.

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 (The Blue Mountains Bushfires of 2013 looming over residents properties)

Having Business Interruption cover can provide further financial protection for your business. If your business is shut down for a period you could be covered for your loss of income while the affected areas are brought back up to speed.

If you do need to make a claim follow these tips to make your claims process as stress free as possible.

  • Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
  • Photograph the damage.
  • Understand the scope of the damage, what can be salvaged and what needs to be replaced.
  • Don’t clean up until you’ve been given the go ahead.
  • Gather all the information you need to make a claim:
    • your policy number
    • name and contact details on the policy
    • your ABN if you’re registered for GST
    • details of the damage

Regardless of whether your business has been directly or indirectly impacted this is going to be a stressful time for your business.  Being prepared financially could mean the difference between being out of business temporarily or permanently.

* Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/busy-bushfire-season-predicted-for-australias-most-populous-regions-20150831-gjbntt.html#ixzz3ppxzjwgn

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