La Niña may persist until autumn: How to prepare your home

Car and SES rescue vehicle driving on road during storms caused by La Niña.

La Niña is now firmly established in the tropical Pacific, with climate modelling from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) suggesting severe wet weather and cooling temperatures may persist until early autumn 2022.  

This means much of northern and eastern Australia will continue to face increased rainfall and a higher likelihood of flooding and other weather events which could damage homes and property.

The BOM anticipates this La Niña event will be of weak to moderate strength compared to other cycles, but notes the strength of the event doesn’t necessarily correlate with the impact it might have.

So, if you live in the eastern or northern states and territories, it might be wise to get your home, belongings and insurance prepared for worst-case weather conditions now.

Recent Mozo research found a third of home insurance policies don’t automatically include flood cover, instead offering it as an optional extra for an additional fee. On top of this, 68% of policies don’t insure for storm surges, which usually refers to damage caused by rising seas during severe weather.

With this in mind, Mozo spokesperson Tom Godfrey is encouraging Australians to reassess weather risks to their property now and update their policy accordingly. 

“Once a storm or flood becomes a known event, there is often an exclusion period where you can’t adjust your policy, leaving you at risk of fronting up any damage costs if you aren’t already covered,” Godfrey says.

“When preparing for a stormy summer, reviewing your home insurance policy and making sure you have the right level of cover can be the difference between sink or swim.”

How to prepare your home for La Niña in Australia

To help you tick off your La Niña to-do list, Mark O'Connor from Allianz Australia has shared his tips for preparing and protecting your home ahead of unexpected weather events.

Clean gutters and prune gardens

Clearing gutters, pruning overgrown trees and ensuring greenery won’t fall and damage your car or home can help minimise risks during a storm. O’Connor also says it’s wise to clear items away from flood prone areas of your property and secure any loose outdoor items if possible.

“Not taking these precautions can leave you open to the risk of water damage caused by overflowing blocked gutters, potential flooding, and moving household items as debris, which may cause property damage,” O’Connor says.

Protect windows and outdoor furniture

If you can’t nail down balcony or backyard furniture, consider bringing it inside if a storm is approaching. As an extra step, you might want to upgrade or install external window shutters. 

“If you live in a rental, your landlord or building manager may be able to provide these on your behalf. However, it is important to request this early and not during the weather event itself,” O’Conor says.

Tenants generally don’t have to pay for repairs to their rental home caused by storm damage – this is where landlord insurance held by the owner comes in. However, you may need to show you went to efforts to adequately protect the property (and nobody wants to deal with a flooded house if avoidable). Plus, a damaged property could mean your belongings are at risk, and if you don’t have renters insurance you could face significant losses.

Have an evacuation plan and emergency kit

O'Connor says it’s essential to prepare an evacuation plan for leaving your house or apartment (and where to go afterwards) in case your home is impacted by extreme weather. Figure out what your household will need to do in certain circumstances and have key contact details like your insurance company, building manager, landlord and local SES branch easily accessible. 

“Develop this plan and communicate it with your family and friends. Nominate an emergency contact so they are aware of the process and requirements if the worst happens.”

Part of this plan should involve putting together an emergency bag. Your emergency kit should include essentials like:

  • a first aid kit
  • water (or a water bottle to fill)
  • basic toiletries
  • extra clothes and face masks
  • a torch
  • important documents (like passports and insurance papers)
  • irreplaceable items (like smaller family heirlooms).

Have a plan for your vehicle

If you don’t have somewhere undercover to park your car or motorbike and know a storm is going to hit your area, consider moving it somewhere safe like a nearby parking complex or a neighbour’s empty garage. You’ll also want to check your car insurance policy ahead of time to make sure it includes cover for storms, hail and flooding.

And if you’re planning an evacuation and intend to drive, O’Connor advises you have your car and keys are easily accessible, and to already have planned a safe driving route away from danger. Once you’re on the move, be sure to listen to local radio stations for news on road closures. 

Update and regularly check your insurance policies

Knowing exactly what events and potential damage your car or home is insured against is important. To make sure you’re fully compensated if they are damaged, be proactive about updating your policies to include cover for newly bought valuable items or modifications you’ve recently made to your car or house.

And if you’re not happy with what your current insurance provider is offering, make a switch. Start by checking how well your home and content insurance compares against the policies below.

Compare home insurance policies - rates updated daily

Search promoted home insurance below. Advertiser disclosure. Important information on terms, conditions and sub-limits.
  • Home & Contents Insurance

    Main events covered
    • fire
      Fire
    • theft
      Theft
    • storm
      Storm
    • flood
      Flood
      Optional Extra
    Monthly payments
    cost extra
    Calendar icon
    Yes
    Underinsurance protection
    Underinsurance protection icon
    Optional ExtraUp To 25% Of Building Sum Insured
    New for old
    replacement
    Replacement icon
    Yes
    Go to site
    Details
  • Everyday Comprehensive Home and Contents Insurance

    Main events covered
    • fire
      Fire
    • theft
      Theft
    • storm
      Storm
    • flood
      Flood
    Monthly payments
    cost extra
    Calendar icon
    Yes
    Underinsurance protection
    Underinsurance protection icon
    No
    New for old
    replacement
    Replacement icon
    Yes
    Go to site
    Details
  • Home & Contents Insurance

    Main events covered
    • fire
      Fire
    • theft
      Theft
    • storm
      Storm
    • flood
      Flood
    Monthly payments
    cost extra
    Calendar icon
    Yes
    Underinsurance protection
    Underinsurance protection icon
    No
    New for old
    replacement
    Replacement icon
    Yes
    Go to site
    Details
  • Home & Contents Insurance

    Main events covered
    • fire
      Fire
    • theft
      Theft
    • storm
      Storm
    • flood
      Flood
    Monthly payments
    cost extra
    Calendar icon
    No
    Underinsurance protection
    Underinsurance protection icon
    No
    New for old
    replacement
    Replacement icon
    Yes
    Go to site
    Details
  • Home & Contents Insurance

    Main events covered
    • fire
      Fire
    • theft
      Theft
    • storm
      Storm
    • flood
      Flood
      Optional Extra
    Monthly payments
    cost extra
    Calendar icon
    Yes
    Underinsurance protection
    Underinsurance protection icon
    Optional ExtraUp To 25% Of Sum Insured
    New for old
    replacement
    Replacement icon
    Yes
    Go to site
    Details

* Terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply to any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. These terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits could affect the level of benefits and cover available under any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. Please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and the Target Market Determination on the provider's website for further information before making any decisions about an insurance product.

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