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Bushfire ash

We live in a bushfire postcode area, the January 2020 bush fire meant we were shrouded in a blanket of smoke for several weeks. Our concrete tile roof is now black from the fire ash drop down and there is a fungal growth occurring. Does anyone know if this constitutes a claim on our home insurance policy, we are advised the cleaning cost would be in the vicinity of $1,000

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Welcome to the Choice Community TomW :slight_smile:
Best to ask your insurance company, but how much is your claim excess? That may make it not worthwhile claiming.

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Welcome to the community @tomw,

As a general question policies vary, some might cover it and others not. Ring your insurer. They will know.

Then there is the matter of your excess.Some us have excesses close to or higher than your quote. eg If your excess is $600 your policy would only pay $400 toward the cleanup if they accepted the claim. If you have a $1,000 excess they could approve your claim and pay $0.00 toward the $1,000.

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Have you had quotes from multiple reputable businesses for the pressure cleaning (which is what they will do)? Based on a pressure cleaning business that I have used recently, that $1000 would be for 28.5hrs work for one person, or 14.25hrs for two people!

As an alternative to insurance, would it be possible to buy a pressure cleaner if you don’t have one and DIY, or get someone you know to do it for you?

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I think it will be unlikely.

This is for a number of reasons:

  • it is nine months since the bushfire event; and
  • it will be difficult to prove that the fungal growth is a direct result of the bushfire event.

If your house was covered with an unreasonable amount of ash, possibly you should have lodged a claim to have it removed shortly after the bushfire event. As you have waited around 9 months, one could assume that the level of ash was not of concern shortly after the fires. As 9 months has passed, the fungal growth and any residual ash would possibly be seen as normal house maintenance/cleaning requirements (like say dust on a roof when living next to a farm, leaves on a roof from an overhanging tree or pollutants on a roof from living in an industrial area.

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On our policy we have 3 years in which to make a claim, sometimes the damage is not apparent until a little while after the event. The carbon and other constituents of the ash may have fed the growth of the fungal spores, the owner may not have realised this and was happy then to leave the tiles having a black discolouration. Now that they are aware of the issue they are seeking to make a claim and this is where it becomes important what their insurer decides on if the event is covered by the policy.

First step is to read the policy documents (including the PDS) and see if the event could be covered

Next get the opinion of the insurer as to if any part of the policy covers this type of event.

If they refuse and the insured party thinks that there should be coverage under the policy then they should undertake dispute resolution processes including a possible complaint to AFCA.

Getting some legal advice when looking at the policy documents would be a good idea and there are a number of free legal services that should be able to give advice and support. Of course paying for advice is possible but may make the process just too expensive for what the claim might be worth.

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An article regarding more than 10 times the number of people who died in the bushfires in 2019/2020 have subsequently died from the effects of the smoke and ash.

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