How to protect your finances this bushfire season
The recent bushfire crisis has destroyed more than two thousand homes and burnt through more than ten million hectares of land. If you have been affected by the bushfires or you reside in areas with higher bushfire risks, the Credit Savvy team share what you can do to help protect your finances and where you can seek financial support during this devastating time.
Take stock of your possessions
It can be difficult to recall all the items you own, especially after the bushfires. But, when it’s instructed as safe to return to your home, the first step is to create a list of damaged or lost items and take photos or videos to support your insurance claims.
Avoid touching, repairing or removing damaged items as this could complicate your insurance claim. If Good Samaritans offer to help, it is advised that only damaged items that pose hazardous risks are to be safely removed, but only after you have photographed these items.
Contact your home insurer
Getting your home insurance claim sorted out quickly is important to help you get back on your feet. Provide the name of the policyholder and the address to lodge a claim directly with your insurer or insurance broker.
Once you’ve lodged your insurance claim, your insurance provider will let you know when you can expect a visit from the insurance assessor.
Reach out to your credit provider
If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, such as having trouble accessing cash or you’re unable to meet your loan repayments, you should contact your bank or credit provider as a priority. The earlier you inform them of your situation, the more options could be made available to help you.
As announced by The Australian Banking Association (ABA), the big four banks and various credit providers have been rolling out bushfire relief packages to affected victims and communities. These banks include ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac – as well as Adelaide Bank, Bank of Queensland, Bendigo, ING, Macquarie Bank, Suncorp, and many more.
While the appropriate relief arrangement will be based on your circumstances, below is a snapshot of some of the measures that may be available to you:
- Deferring loan repayments
- Temporary interest rate relief
- Loan restructuring or consolidating
- Waiving certain fees or charges
- Waiving application fees and penalty fees
- Emergency credit limit increases (i.e. credit cards)
If you’re unsure whether your credit provider is a member of the ABA, you can visit the ABA website to find out more information.
Seek government & major charity support
Many relevant government associations currently offer emergency recovery funding to bushfire affected communities. State-specific government assistance can be found on the Disaster Assist website. Check the website regularly – it is updated as disasters unfold.
Registered charity organisations, such as The Salvation Army bushfire appeal and Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery also provide relevant financial assistance to those who are affected, you can visit their website for more information on how to apply and access disaster support.
Here at Credit Savvy, our thoughts are with everyone affected by Australia’s bushfire emergency. If you have any questions related to your Experian credit score or credit report, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with Experian (our partner credit bureau).
If you wish to help the people and animals affected by the devastation, below are some of the charity organisations you could look into:
Remember before you donate, always check that the charity is registered by searching on the Australia Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register (ACNC).
Help the firefighters
Help our wildlife
Help the people