Bushfire underinsurance risk

The hot summer months once again bring the risk of bushfire in many parts of Victoria. La Trobe University Associate Lecturer Rachel Carter says that while the major concern in bushfire season is protecting life and property, what is often neglected is the question of insurance and whether people are adequately covered in case fire destroys their home and property.

Bushfires‘People in Australia need to be mindful of what their insurance policy covers and if there are any exclusion clauses which are operational,’ says Miss Carter. ‘This is critical even for people whose property is not in immediate danger.’
‘Lessons from Black Saturday and other events such as the Queensland floods show that often people are inadequately insured. The full extent of their underinsurance is often not realised until after a catastrophic event has taken place.’
‘Insurance is the only way under which individuals can have the economic protection they need to recover from catastrophic events,’ says Miss Carter.
Miss Carter’s PhD research specialises in catastrophic risk, specifically in catastrophic risk and insurance. She currently holds two scholarships, one with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre in Melbourne and one with the International Association of Wildland Fire in the US.
Miss Carter has also worked with the OECD in Paris, analysing the best insurance policy outcomes for catastrophic risk from a global perspective.
‘It is tempting for individuals to believe that fire will never affect them, but the reality is that fire is a real danger for many Australian households. So it’s important to mitigate the risks through careful planning – both in terms of financial insurance and also to protect lives and property.’
‘When it comes to protecting life and property, people should ensure that the area around their properties is clear, gutters are kept clear and highly flammable materials are kept away from buildings throughout the bushfire season,’ says Miss Carter.
‘People who vacate their properties during a period of high fire danger should ensure that pets and items of special importance, such as birth certificates, be taken with them.’

For more information please contact :
Rachel Carter
Associate Lecturer, La Trobe Law School
T: 03 9479 3684 E: rachel.carter@latrobe.edu.au
Suzi Macbeth
Communications Officer, La Trobe University
T: 03 9479 5353 E: s.macbeth@latrobe.edu.au