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How to prepare your strata property for El Nino and bushfire season: Essential Tips from Flex Insurance

With the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) officially announcing that Australia is now into El Niño, the risks associated with bushfires are heightened.

Although we are already in El Nino, we’ve seen some incredibly erratic weather across Australia making it crucial to be well-prepared to safeguard your strata property and residents for any weather event.

Whether it is cyclone, floods or bushfire, preparedness is key. Anything you can do to prepare for the wild weather, will make a significant difference.

Flex Insurance understands the importance of readiness, and we've compiled a list of essential tips to help you prepare your strata property for bushfire season.

1. Is your strata property adequately insured?

Check your residential strata insurance policy and ensure that the building's ‘Sum Insured’ is up to date and reflects s the cost of reinstatement in the event of severe damage. When was the last time you had a building valuation? With the rising cost of materials and inflationary market, we recommend getting an updated building valuation if you haven’t had one in the past three years.  If uncertain about your coverage, consult your strata manager, insurance broker or contact Flex Insurance for expert guidance. 

2. Is your property in a Bushfire Prone Areas (BPAs)?

If you answered Yes to this question, it is important to familiarise yourself with the regulations governing properties in Bushfire Prone Areas (BPAs) introduced after the 2009 Black Saturday fires. Older strata buildings in BPAs might be at risk of being underinsured due to increased reconstruction costs to comply with new standards.

If you are uncertain as to whether you are in a BPA zone, you can check with your local fire and emergency services or rural fire services.

Even if your building is not in a bushfire prone area, extended dry and hot weather can impact any property.

3. Is the maintenance of your building kept up to date?

It is important to keep your property well-maintained. Clear dry vegetation and waste from around your strata property, reducing potential fuel for fires. Regularly clean roof gutters, mow the lawns, remove dead branches, leaves, and grass clippings, and store flammable fuels away from the building. A well-maintained property reduces the risk of spot fires and ensures safety.

4. Do you have a Fire Safety Plan?

Create a clear fire safety plan, regardless of your property's location. Decide in advance with your strata committee on an evacuation procedure and meeting point and ensure all residents (owner occupiers and tenants) are informed. Being well-prepared and organised significantly enhances your safety during emergencies. Ensure smoke alarms are regularly checked in all apartments and that fire escapes are clearly marked and accessible.

5. Keep the lines of communication open with your neighbours and check local information sources.

Stay updated on fire danger ratings provided by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and local fire authorities. Understand the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) and Fire Danger Index (FDI) to gauge the potential threat. Follow reliable sources such as emergency radio stations, social media updates, and Emergency Alert Australia SMS messages for real-time information.

By implementing these proactive measures, you will safeguard your strata property and its occupants.

While this article covers bushfire preparedness, we also want to remind you that Flex has joined the ARPC Cyclone Reinsurance Pool. This is good news for our QLD and Northern region customers. To learn more about the Cyclone Pool, see our press release article here.

Catastrophe Cover: Flex Insurance offers an optional extra of Catastrophe cover. When serious disaster strikes, such as bushfire, cyclone or earthquake, this option comes into effect when the government declares a catastrophe.   If owing to this catastrophe event your building is declared a total loss, this additional protection activates to allow extra for increased costs of sourcing materials and labour during this difficult period, should they be required.

Learn more about Flex Residential Strata Insurance and get familiar with what is automatically included and what can be added for extra protection.

Your safety is our priority at Flex Insurance. Stay prepared, stay safe.