As bushfires spread across Victoria, brokers have an incredibly important role to play

Jinks Creek winery at the edge of the Bunyip State Park has reportedly exploded in a massive fireball resulting from an uncontrollable bushfire.

According to VIC Emergency, currently, there are multiple blazes developing in Victoria including around the Bunyip State Park, Dargo, Yinnar south, Avenel and Licola.

Reports are coming in of destruction of residential properties and business as the fire crisis escalates. Joshua Kerr, Head of Wine Division at Midlands Insurance Brokers believes that in times like this brokers have a vital role to play, “Most importantly brokers need to be there to support their clients, they have lost everything and will be under immense stress.

“If you can take away the burden of dealing with the insurer it will be the most important thing you can do to help them through. You can hope for the best but should always prepare for the worst.”

The weather conditions continue to challenge efforts to control the fires in spite of Country Fire Authority (CFA) declaring a total fire ban in all of Victoria over the past weekend. Bureau of Meteorology’s Senior Forecaster, Tom Delamotte said, “This is the hottest start to Autumn in 30 years, following the hottest Summer on record.”

Kerr says that apart from the damage and destruction from a blaze, for businesses like wineries the recovery can be long and expensive so business interruption is a big issue, “In the vineyard, lose the grapes and its 12 months gone (though often it is two years), lose the vines and there is no product to sell for at least five years.”

There are also massive recovery and replacement costs that brokers keep in mind while recommending a policy to their clients, reminds Kerr.

“With the relatively recent introduction of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings and regulations in fire prone areas the cost to replace the building can be dramatically higher than the clients believe and can often exhaust the sum insured long before they are back to a pre-loss position.”

He suggests having the clients do some homework on the costs to rebuild which will often be very surprising. Kerr says, “The cover provided will be remembered long after the premium has been paid. Don’t undersell the importance of correct sums insured and the cover you provide, when a claim happens the client will never thank you for it.”