Business Insurance Blog


Leading Causes of House Fires and the Precautions You Should be Taking

House fires are a major cause of property damage, personal injury, and even death. But most are preventable. Here are the top causes of home blazes, and what you can do to ensure your home and family are prepared and fire safe.


Fire coverage is something that instantly springs to mind when one thinks about home insurance, but what actually causes these fires often only gets thought about when it’s too late.


According to a recent Queensland Times article, statistics across the state indicate that there have been over 550 house fire call outs between January and May this year, with 12 lives lost due to fire related deaths at the time of publishing. However, most fatal fires are preventable. With a little foresight and planning, risks can be minimised, and damage can be mitigated or avoided completely.


So, what are the top causes of household fires, and what precautions can you take?


Old or Faulty Smoke Alarms

The most important thing you should do is check that you have properly functioning smoke alarms. Old alarms need to be replaced, batteries need to be checked every month by pressing the test button on the device, and they should be kept free of obstructions, such as dust and cobwebs. Smoke alarms that are operating correctly are absolutely crucial to house fire protection, and act as a safety net for everything else on this list.


Objects Near Heaters And Fireplaces

Anything in the vicinity of heaters or fireplaces, especially flammable objects, pose a fire threat and could catch alight. Keep objects at least two metres away, and never leave the area unchecked or unattended.


Incorrect Use Of Power Outlets And Appliances

Overloaded power outlets form a major fire risk. Go easy on multi-adaptors; unplug electrical appliances when not in use and when leaving the house; and, only charge items when they can be regularly checked on, and away from flammable objects. 


Distracted Occupants

Distraction can lead to disaster. A burnt meal may be the least of your worries if a stovetop is left unattended. Ensure you are careful and present, especially in the kitchen, and always turn appliances off when done with cooking.


It’s also important to have a plan if a blaze does occur. Sit down with your family and discuss your exact plan if a smoke alarm does trigger. Programs like the Queensland Government’s Great Escape are fantastic resources to ensure your family is prepared for such a situation.


How the Right Broker Can Help With Rejected Insurance Claims

Insurance companies sometimes get a bad rap for trying to weasel their way out of legitimate claims. We’ve all heard more than our fair share of stories about companies that have denied claims on technicalities, upholding the letter etc. This is not in the spirit of the contract.
In Australia, however, it’s rare for reputable insurance providers to deny a claim. In fact, according to a study published by the Financial Ombudsman Service, only 3% of all insurance claims are denied.
But you’re probably wondering… what if I end up in the 3%? Can my family or my business survive a costly liability? Isn’t that why you’ve been paying for insurance in the first place?

Why are Insurance Claims Refused?

If you ever receive a rejected insurance claim, turn to your broker for assistance to understand the finer points of the insurance policy, and how your circumstances fit within the policy.
The 3 most common reasons for insurance claims being denied are:
1. Limited coverage that does not include the damage within your claim.
2. Claims in excess of the policy limit.
3. Lapsed coverage which can arise for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay your monthly insurance premium.
If your claim is denied for one of the above reasons, the insurance company’s decision may be legitimate. Or, if you’ve done your research, you may still feel the denial is unreasonable. Either way, you should reach out to your broker for help taking further action.
Your broker can quickly help you determine whether there are grounds for challenging the insurer’s decision. Specifically, most insurers subscribe to the General Insurance Code of Practice. This code is in place to ensure fair and timely resolution of customer disputes. If your insurer has violated the code, you can use that violation to demand a fair, equitable, and prompt resolution. Specifically, section 10 of the code deals with complaints and disputes. There are strict time periods in place in which insurers must deal with complaints.

Leverage your Broker’s network

Perhaps the most confusing thing about navigating a rejected insurance claim is the variety of protocols and institutions that play a role in the appeal process.
Under Australian law, insurers are required to provide two separate avenues for appeal.
1. Internal Disputes: Every Australian insurance company MUST provide an internal dispute resolution process, allowing you to appeal the denial directly with the insurer. Most insurance companies don’t promptly reply to these inquiries, so be prepared to wait for a response. However, under law, insurers are required to respond to you within 15 days. Because your broker is often well connected with the insurance company, he/she can help you receive a response as quickly as possible. They can also help you to provide all required information on the first submission so that the review process is not held up further.
2. External Financial Ombudsman Service: Once you’ve gone through the proper internal dispute channels, you can appeal the decision to an independent Australian agency called the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If you’re still not satisfied with the results of your internal dispute, ask your broker to provide you with the proper contacts to initiate an external adjudication through the FOS-.

Your Broker knows your policy

You can measure the quality of your insurance broker by the depth of their knowledge about your policy. The best brokers will know the finer detail about your policy, allowing them to effectively mediate with your insurer if/when your claim is refused.

If you want to know more about whether your insurance policy has you correctly covered please feel free to call us on 1300 167 143.


Insure against bad luck? Yes you can!

We’re all human right? We all have clumsy moments and drop things or become forgetful and lose things. Generally we categorise these moments as bad luck. There is a way to insure against these everyday life accidents, protecting your home and personal belongings – its called Accidental Damage cover. It’s a cover that gives that extra level of insurance protection that you may be missing out on.

In the current market there are two types of home and contents insurance policies which are:
1. Defined events
2. Accidental Damage

Both of these policies offer an extra layer of protection but it’s important to understand what they cover to identify which policy would be most applicable to you.

Defined Events Policy
The type of policy you’ve purchased should always be stated clearly on your insurance paperwork. A Defined Events insurance policy can also go by the name of Listed Events or a Listed Perils Policy. A Defined Events policy will typically limit you to only being able to make a claim for loss or damage caused by:

  • Fire or explosion
  • Lightning
  • Earthquake
  • Theft or attempted the of contents from the home
  • Deliberate or malicious acts
  • Bursting, leaking, discharging or overflowing of fixed basins, shower bases, or other fixed apparatus or fixed pipes used to hold or carry liquid of any kind
  • Fusion of an electric motors less than 15 years old
  • Accidental breakage of fixed glass, hand basins, baths and toilet bowls or cisterns
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Impact by a vehicle, aircraft, falling tree, anima, television or radio aerial or falling power or communication poles
  • Storm cyclone, hurricane and rainwater
  • Flood

Overall a Defined Events Policy is good but it doesn’t offer cover for those everyday bad luck moments.

Accidental Damage Policy
In comparison to a Defined Events policy, an Accidental Damage policy will cover the same events but it goes above and beyond by covering you for damage to your building and contents that is caused by an accident. So:
• If you accidentally drop and break personal items (at home or away from home)
• If you accidentally leave or lose any personal items (at home or away from home)
• If you accidentally damage your carpets, walls or parts of your building

If you want to be covered for all of the above then Accidental Damage is the cover you require

So just to recap, both the Defined Events and Accidental Damage policies will cover your Building and Contents for the events listed in the Product Disclosure Statement. However the Accidental Damage policy is superior in its coverage and provides accidental damage to your building and contents in your home and to top it off – worldwide cover for loss or damage to your personal items.
As with all insurance policies, limits and maximum values may apply. An Accidental Damage policy will generally have higher limits than that of a Defined Events policy.
If you want to know more about upgrading to an Accidental Damage policy or if you’re not sure what type of policy you have in place, please feel to call us on 1300 167 143.