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Suzy Browne

Suzy Browne and her two children were in their South Hobart home one evening in May 2018, when torrential rain hit Hobart with a vengeance.

Swollen from the deluge, the Cascade catchment blocked, sending water flooding onto suburban streets. For Suzy, ‘an almighty roar’ signalled the arrival of a flash flood on her doorstep, and within seconds her home was filled with thigh-deep, muddy water. Afraid that more water was on its way, Suzy, her children and the family dog took refuge on their carport roof, and waited for emergency services to arrive.

The following morning, the family surveyed the destruction. Her house and garden were covered with inches of stinking mud, and everything they owned—furniture, photos, clothes, precious possessions, even food—had been damaged.

A long road home

The impact was such that Suzy and her family had no option but to move out while the house was cleaned and repaired. Returning home has been a complex, costly and lengthy process, and it was almost 18 months before the family could move back in to their still-incomplete home.

Fortunately, Suzy had been diligent about her home and contents insurance before disaster struck. Several years ago, she sat down with her insurer and went through her policy with a fine-toothed comb. She discovered things she wasn’t covered for (including a flood), and adjusted her policy accordingly, to increase her level of cover. As a result, when she lost almost everything she owned in 2018, she was well covered by her insurance.

Suzy says her insurance company have been great to deal with. But she acknowledges that without her attention to detail all those years ago, the devastating experience her family has been through would have been immeasurably tougher.

Know your cover

Suzy’s advice is to be meticulous with your insurance, and take the time to go through your policy with your insurer, in detail, and make sure you understand what is included and what isn’t. List individual items on your policy, such as tablets, phones, and jewellery, and add new items each year as you acquire them.

She also suggests taking photos of all your insurable belongings and keeping an inventory of what you have and what it cost (even without receipts). Take photos of serial numbers and receipts for whitegoods and electrical appliances, to make it easier to price items later. And ask your insurer about salvage rights, so that if your property and possessions are affected by a natural disaster, you’ll have the option to keep things that are precious to you, even if they are damaged.

And finally, Suzy urges people to keep electronic records of everything. Often, you won’t realise what you’ve lost until months later, when you need it and realise too late that it’s not there.