When wild weather dumped torrential rain on Hobart in May 2018, Jason Haas was one of the many people seriously affected by the event.
His two South Hobart businesses, Retro Steel Furniture and AirCon Industries, were severely impacted by floodwaters. The flood also damaged the wall of the Hobart rivulet, resulting in the closure of primary road access to both businesses.
The road was only reopened in late August 2019, seventeen months after the event occurred. The loss of access to Jason's businesses over this period resulted in Retro Steel Furniture closing down altogether, while AirCon Industries, which has alternative access from a street at the rear of the property, has survived.
Jason believes it was the loss of foot traffic to Retro Steel Furniture that sounded the business's death knell. Without direct access, his customers simply didn't know he was open and operating.
Air Con Industries was closed for several weeks during the clean up phase. After a dramatic initial downturn in business, Jason worked hard to let regular customers know he was still operating, and has managed to retain his eight staff, including his son. It took six months for the business to become fully operational again.
The insurance journey
Since taking over his family business three years before the flood, Jason hadn't got around to reviewing his insurance and re-assessing how much cover he needed. Thankfully, his insurance company 'was brilliant'.
His broker arranged for an insurance assessor to meet him on-site on the day of the flood. Throughout the claim process, the assessor was easy to reach so Jason was able to have his many questions answered promptly, and there were no disputes about the claim.
Jason's policy covered staff wages, enabling him to continue employing his team. He says that having adequate cover for some elements of his claim—including a percentage of the full retail value of his furniture stock—was a saving grace. He was also covered for a percentage of lost income through interruption of trade that resulted from the damage to the shop, and the ongoing lack of access due to the closure of the road.
While Jason was happy with the response from his insurance company, he now says that if he'd reviewed his policy before the flood, he would have increased his level of cover for loss of income. He also now schedules an annual review of his insurances, to account for any changes or growth in his business.
Don't take the risk
Jason's advice for anyone wondering whether their insurance will cover them for a natural disaster is simple—don't take the risk. Take action now to make sure your insurances are in place, that you understand exactly what you're covered for, and that you have an adequate level of cover.
And for business owners in low-lying areas, check your cover to see if you're insured for flood damage, or only for water damage. It's important to understand the detail of your policy so you can prepare if the worst happens.
And, keep an eye on the weather!