By Chris Dougherty, General Manager, Westlawn Insurance
27 June 2016

On the weekend of 4-5 June, an east coast low pressure system brought torrential rain, gale force winds, flash flooding and damaging surf to many parts of Australia’s east coast. Coinciding with the year’s highest king tides, storm surges eroded beaches and left a row of multi-million dollar beachfront homes at Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches under threat. Flash flooding in Picton inundated businesses in the main street. Closer to home, wild seas smashed the marina at Coffs.

Just 2 weeks later, another east coast low developed. That system brought further wind and rain, but thankfully little of the destruction of the earlier event.

And with La Niña likely to develop in coming months, more wet weather could be on the radar.

Despite the frequency of severe weather events, many of us remain complacent and unprepared, however. That’s the findings from a survey of more than 4,000 people by conducted in the wake of this month’s wild weather.

According to the survey, 1 in 5 people with home and contents insurance admit their insurance would not cover them if a natural disaster completely destroyed their home and possessions. Further, 68% don’t have a flood disaster plan in place.

And 35% would have nowhere to live if their house was flooded.

Speaking about the survey results, CEO, Jeremy Levitt said:

“Most of us naively think what we see on the news will never happen to us. But no-one is immune from bad luck when it comes to natural disasters and we all should make some preparations to lessen the heartache if that bad luck does swing our way.

“At the very least, check your insurance policy to see if there are any exclusions and talk with your neighbours to formulate a plan so you can help each other out.”

Levitt added: “Many people think they’re covered when they take out basic insurance, but they are often left financially distraught in the wake of a natural disaster. In peak storm season like we’re experiencing now, it’s a good idea to check your policy and upgrade if you think you’re lacking.”

More wet weather over coming months?

The wet and wild weather of June may remain with us for some time yet.

On 22 June, ABC Rural reported that the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is watching a possible La Niña event with the latest El Nino-Southern Oscillation report (ENSO) indicating a 50% likelihood that La Niña may develop over the coming months.

La Niña is typically associated with higher than usual winter and spring rainfall over northern, central and eastern Australia.
So with the prospect of further wet conditions, now is a good time to prepare.

Preparing your home for floods & storms

General maintenance

  • Check condition of roof and repair loose tiles, eaves and screws.
  • Clean gutters and downpipes so water can drain away quickly.
  • Trim trees and overhanging branches.
  • Secure loose items that could cause damage if blown around in high winds (such as garden furniture, trampolines etc).

General preparations

  • Ensure your home, contents and car insurance is current and covers your assets adequately – check your policy includes debris clean up and disposal.
  • Identify your home’s strongest room in case you need to shelter during a severe storm. Usually this will be the smallest room with least windows.
  • Identify where and how to turn off mains supply for water, power and gas.
  • Have emergency essentials on hand such as masking tape for windows, containers for storing drinking water and a supply of fuel for your vehicle.
  • In case of flooding, store all poisons well above ground level.

When severe weather warnings are issued

  • Disconnect electrical appliances and all external television and radio aerials.
  • Turn off electricity and gas main supplies if instructed by emergency authorities.
  • Secure outdoor furniture and other garden items.
  • Fill buckets and bath with clean water in case of interruptions to main supply.
  • Close windows with shutters, or use strong tape in a criss-crossing pattern and draw curtains.
  • Park vehicles under cover, away from trees, powerlines and waterways.
  • If you cannot access undercover shelter for your vehicles, secure with firmly tied blankets to minimise any hail damage.
  • Check all household members are safe and are in the strongest room in the house.
  • Listen to your local radio station for updates, further warnings and safety messages.
  • For information on disaster preparations visit


Talk to a Westlawn Insurance Broker

To ensure that your home & contents and business are adequately covered, contact Westlawn Insurance Brokers today:

  • Call us on 1300 WESTLAWN (1300 937 852)
  • Email us at

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