Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens is urging New Zealanders to be prepared amid severe weather warnings across many areas of the country.
“Use your time now to minimise potential weather damage,” Stevens said. “Check your gutters and drains including those outside your house are clear, and your windows and doors are closed – even on the shed. Ensure your big external furniture items are secure and can’t get blown away or into other objects. You can make a big difference by doing simple home maintenance now.”
In case damage occurs, Stevens warned against getting stuck in to clear it up quickly.
“Providing it’s safe, take photos or videos of any damage and make a list of all things affected,” she said. “It’s important to establish to your insurer what has been damaged and prove ownership. Your claims process will be easier with those documents to back up your claim.”
Stevens shared a case where a homeowner made a list of all damaged items that she’d thrown away and sent it to her insurer. She said the insurer was within its rights to demand for more proof, such as photos or receipts.
While homeowners should make necessary repairs prevent further loss, Stevens advised them to make non-essential repairs only after talking to their insurer. Also, insurers can have differing opinions to homeowners on what are essential repairs, for example, pulling up the carpet.
“If in doubt – check it out with your insurer,” she said.
Stevens also advised homeowners to understand what type of insurance they’ve signed up to before an event to prevent issues, such as being insured for indemnity value, rather than full replacement value.