Natural disasters

Natural disasters

People recovering from disasters such as fires, bushfires and floods often feel overwhelmed by the legal issues that can arise. These can include problems with:

  • insurance claims
  • destroyed wills
  • accommodation
  • family law.

If you have experienced a disaster and are facing issues like these, it is important that you get legal advice.

How we can help

We can help you with free information about legal issues relating to disasters and options for ongoing assistance.

Call Victoria Legal Aid’s dedicated disaster line on 1800 113 432.

If you need an interpreter let us know.

Disaster Legal Help

We are a partner in Disaster Legal Help, a joint initiative between six legal service organisations to provide free information and support for Victorians affected by disasters.

The website has factsheets that explain your legal rights and options when facing issues that arise from a disaster.

Disaster Legal Help may also provide free legal advice in face-to-face sessions in communities affected by disaster. If your community has been affected, check the Disaster Legal Help website to find out if sessions are running in your area.

Help with insurance

You can contact us for help with dealing with insurance companies, including claim processes and disputes.

First you should lodge a formal claim. It is best to lodge a claim as soon as possible after the disaster. An insurer won’t make a proper assessment unless you put in a formal claim. If your insurer tells you over the phone that you are not covered, don’t assume that they are right.

If your insurer rejects your claim, you can lodge a complaint with them and ask them to review their decision. If your insurer still refuses your claim, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed independently for free by the Financial Ombudsman Service – see Resolving disputes.

Other organisations that can help

Disaster Assist

Disaster Assist provides information on assistance for current disasters as well as links to assistance and response to previous disasters that have impacted Australians, both in Australia and overseas.

Emergency Recovery and Relief Victoria

The Victorian Government’s Emergency Recover and Relief website has information about support services available for Victorians affected by disasters.

You can also call its information line on 1300 799 232.

Country Fire Authority (CFA)

The CFA is a volunteer and community-based fire and emergency services organisation.

You can find warnings and advice about current fire incidents in Victoria on the CFA website.

It also has information about how to plan and prepare for fires and bushire season, including a home fire safety checklist and information about escape plans.

The CFA’s FireReady app has up-to-date information about incidents and fire safety.

Insurance Law Service

The Insurance Law Service gives free advice on insurance law and resolving disputes with insurers.

Its website has a Bushfire Insurance Guide and other factsheets about issues such as flood insurance, making a claim on home and contents insurance, and what to do if your claim is refused.