Consumer Affairs Victoria can help with insurance, banking and financial hardship issues in a disaster, such as a storm, flood, bushfire or earthquake.
If you have insurance, contact your insurer to lodge a claim before you start any major repairs. Your insurer will have a copy of your policy.
Take photos before cleaning up and make a list of everything that has been damaged.
It is important to lodge a claim, as it means:
- your insurer must assess your claim and decide if you are covered
- if you are not satisfied with the outcome you can seek a review through your insurer's internal dispute resolution system – the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has information about how to make a complaint.
If you are still not satisfied after making a formal complaint, you can visit the Australian Financial Complaints Authority website or call 1800 931 678.
Form more information about:
- flood and storm damage insurance
- claiming on home insurance.
visit the Storms, floods and fires page on the MoneySmart website.
Banking and loans
Banks, building societies and credit unions have financial hardship arrangements for people affected by disaster.
They also have dedicated numbers for affected customers to call:
Applying for a hardship variation
If you are not able to negotiate a suitable arrangement with your credit provider, you have a legal right to seek a 'hardship variation'.
This is a formal process where you ask your credit provider to vary the terms of your loan contract.
You can ask your credit provider to vary your contract in one of the following ways:
- postpone your repayments (with interest being added onto your loan)
- allow you to make interest-only repayments for a period
- extend your loan period (which means you will pay less in each repayment over a longer period of time, though more interest in the longer term).
After you apply for a hardship variation, the credit provider must respond to your request in writing within 21 days.
If your credit provider refuses your hardship application, it must give reasons.
If you think the reasons provided are unfair, you can complain to an independent dispute resolution scheme such as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority on 1800 931 678.
The National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 can provide more information about help available if you cannot pay your debts.
Help in an emergency - Department of Human Services website or call 180 22 66
Insurance Council Australia website or call 1300 728 228
Australian Bankers’ Association website for information about what support the banks are offering
Australian Financial Complaints Authority website or call 1800 931 678
National Debt Helpline website or call 1800 007 007
Victoria Legal Aid website for free legal information about insurance and related issues or call 1300 792 387
Disaster Legal Help website for free legal advice, assistance and referrals for Victorians affected by disasters or call 1800 113 432.