Does your bushfire plan include a checklist to help in the aftermath?

Does your bushfire plan include a checklist to help in the aftermath?

Friday, 1 December 2017

With summer now here, Victoria Legal Aid says it is time to look at your bushfire or disaster plan and ensure it includes a checklist to help you work through the aftermath.

Joel Townsend is a volunteer for Disaster Legal Help Victoria, a Victorian legal sector collaboration to respond to disaster. He has had a lot of experience working with victims of disasters, including the Black Saturday fires.

‘It’s not a pleasant thought but if you do lose your home and belongings, you’ll need to be prepared to answer some legal questions – and that’s where we come in,’ Mr Townsend said.

‘The main legal problems people encounter are around insurance claims, property damage and accommodation issues.’

Things you should do:

  • make sure your insurance is up to date, and has the right cover for fire and flood
  • be prepared to lodge a claim soon after the event
  • get advice on accommodation or tenancy issues
  • keep a list of key contacts you may need for dealing with recovery from a disaster
  • prepare an important documents kit and include a description of your home and a list of your valuable belongings.

Mr Townsend said people should include the Disaster Legal Help Victoria 1800 113 432 number in their emergency contact list, along with numbers for their insurance company, bank, doctor, Centrelink, local council and power company.

'It makes things easier when you are dealing with companies and governments after a disaster if all of your important documents and account numbers, as well as wills and passports, are together in your kit.’

Joel Townsend

‘We try to be in the field as early as possible after an event. That’s when problems tend to surface with insurance claims. And that’s when it really helps to have a lawyer on hand.’

Mr Townsend said people should look out for notices in local recovery publications for details about how to get help through Disaster Legal Help Victoria.

Volunteer lawyers help in recovery centres and at follow-up sessions 6 to 8 weeks after a disaster. They are trained in insurance law and dispute resolution, and aim to resolve insurance disputes as quickly as possible.

Disaster Legal Help Victoria partners include the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Justice Connect, Law Institute of Victoria, Victoria Law Foundation, Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Bar.

More information

For more information, including a list of important documents to include in your kit, visit www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au

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