Community law advisory service, Financial Rights Legal Centre, has urged landholders and businesses to be aware of free, confidential legal help available following flooding rain in NSW.
Chief executive officer Karen Cox said many people were facing the additional stress of discovering they were under-insured, or uninsured, for flooding in the wake of the devastating loss of business assets, infrastructure or household contents to the past week's big wet.
Largely government-funded and independently run by a voluntary management committee, the community legal centre could provide free legal advice and financial counselling to help people who have lost property.
Ms Cox urged anybody now cleaning up after flooding to be rigorous in gathering evidence for insurance claims, starting by taking photos of damaged buildings and items and gathering evidence from authorities and eyewitness accounts of the time water entered your property.
"If you're able, gather reports from independent assessors about damage as this can assist in challenging decisions by insurers.
"Based on previous experience, it is likely hundreds of individuals and families have found themselves under-insured or uninsured and now unable to replace their homes or other property including vehicles, outbuildings, livestock and fencing."
The centre had insurance law expertise with extensive resources and experience in dealing with weather-related insurance issues.
Specialist lawyers and financial counsellors understood problems people faced when property was damaged or destroyed by natural disasters including floods, storms and hail.
"It can be hard to know how to start an insurance claim for damage to your home, car or other property," Ms Cox said.
The Financial Rights Flood Insurance Guide provided 10 key steps people should be taking now, including listing all damage with as much detail as possible and not disposing of any items unless they posed a hazard, but documenting everything and seeking the insurer's consent before removing water damaged assets.
"If you need emergency accommodation, ask your insurer if they cover those costs," she said.
"Check how your policy covers flood damage and contact your insurer to check your cover and start a claim."
Ms Cox said insurance policies covered damage as a result of "storms", "rainwater" and "run-off" in different ways depending on the exact definition of these terms in a policy.
"Even if you don't have flood cover, you may be covered for some damage from one of these other causes," she said.
"Insurers can try to reject your claim outright on the basis your home was damaged by both rainwater and floodwater.
"It's important to get legal advice if this happens as soon as possible.
"Insurance policies are riddled with exclusions. "Whether your insurance covers fallen trees can depend whether it causes damage to the home or contents."
- The Financial Rights Legal Centre can be contacted via https://financialrights.org.au
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture! Sign up below to receive our daily Farmonline newsletter.
The story Free flood legal help and advice on what to do now first appeared on Farm Online.