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5 best insurance tips for making a strata claim

Making a claim on your strata insurance can be a stressful experience for you and your body corporate committee. However, with a helpful insurer and a few simple measures, it can actually be quite plain sailing.

Here are our top five tips for having the best residential strata insurance experience when it comes time to make a claim.

1. Be prepared

Having all your insurance essentials organised and up-to-date, right from the outset, is one of the most important things you can do to help the claims process. This includes:

  • Making sure you have the most suited strata insurance your specific property, and that it’s regularly reviewed and updated, to cover increases in value and costs
  • Knowing what is covered and what isn’t, and ensuring the rest of your body corporate also understand this and is comfortable with the level of risk your policy assumes
  • Keeping detailed and comprehensive written records, such as receipts and invoices, compliance and testing certificates, maintenance schedules and records, emails and letters, and even staff timesheets. Where possible, duplicates of all these records should be stored off-site (ether physically or in the cloud) just in case the originals are destroyed or lost.
  • Maintaining detailed and current visual records, i.e. photos of everything that the body corporate is responsible for, especially any areas where maintenance or repairs might need to be carried out.

2. Communicate early and in detail

In order for insurers to make a proper assessment, it’s important that claims are lodged early, or at least communication with your insurer starts as soon as possible. That makes it easier for your insurer to work with your body corporate to find a solution that’s most effective. This may mean taking immediate, temporary remedial action to stabilise or “make safe” a situation and then, down the track, take a more permanent route towards fixing the problem.

Where residents, owners, or individual lots are affected, it’s also very important to keep those affected people in the loop, and take time to understand their needs, and work out a way for owners, the body corporate, tradespeople and your insurer to work together as a team.

3. Minimise any further damage or danger

Where damage or injury has occurred, it is the body corporate’s responsibility to ensure that the risk of further loss is minimised, however only to the extent that it alleviates further problems.

Non-urgent repairs or rectification should always wait until after you’ve talked to your insurer. They may provide advice on how to proceed or ask you to wait until an assessor has had a chance to come out and make an assessment. 

4. Keep detailed records of any emergency repairs or action

If emergency repairs are required, ask the contractors or repairers to provide full written details of what they encountered, what they did, what they think may have caused the problem and what further action they would recommend. If you or the contractors can support this information with photos, even better, but only if it is safe to do so.

5. Things that get missed

The following is a checklist of things that often get missed from claims, so you can avoid doing the same:

  • Insurance policy number
  • Property address and strata plan number (if applicable)
  • GST information and ABN if registered for GST
  • Contact details of strata manager, building manager or body corporate representative
  • Details of loss, damage or injury, such as:
    • Date and time
    • Description
    • Possible cause or causes
    • Loss, damage or injury being claimed
  • Details and quotes/invoices for any emergency repairs or replacements that had to be done
  • Photos of the damage before repairs, or lost items if available
  • Police report number for break & enter, theft or malicious damage
  • Contact details of any emergency repairers or suppliers
  • Bank details of the body corporate, for any claims payments 

What does strata insurance cover?

Typical residential strata insurance will cover two main areas: building damage and legal liability. Building damage can occur through water leakage and burst plumbing, weather and natural events, fire and smoke, or accidental damage. Legal liability covers personal injury or damage to someone’s property, while on the premises.

Flex residential strata insurance also offers optional cover for:

  • Machinery breakdown and motor blow-out
  • Committee member liability (office bearers liability)
  • Volunteer workers (compulsory in some states)
  • Fidelity guarantee against fraud or theft (compulsory in SA)
  • Legal and auditing expenses
  • Extra costs incurred if there’s a major widespread catastrophe
  • Extra costs incurred when there’s a shortfall between estimated costs to replace a building and actual costs, where a lot owner has made significant improvements to their unit, that the body corporate wasn’t aware of.

What does strata insurance not cover?

Strata insurance only covers common areas and the building fabric. That means it doesn’t cover personal items or contents in an individual unit or lot. It’s often said that strata insurance stops at the door to an apartment, and unfortunately, a lot of owners discover this when it’s too late. 

Can Flex Insurance help you and your body corporate?

Find out more about residential strata insurance in your state:

Strata insurance NSW
Strata insurance VIC
Strata insurance QLD
Strata insurance SA
Strata insurance WA