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NSW floods: Your guide to accessing financial support

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NSW residents affected by these once-in-a-century floods have been granted access to government disaster relief payments of up to $1000 for adults and $400 for children.

The following local government areas are currently eligible for the payments: Armidale, Bellingen, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury, Bankstown, Central Coast, Cessnock, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Cumberland, Dungog Shire, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Hornsby, Inner West, Kempsey, Ku-ring-gai, Lake Macquarie, Liverpool, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Sutherland, Tenterfield, and Wollondilly.

"The AGDRP provides a one-off, non-means-tested payment of $1,000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children, who have been seriously injured, lost their homes or whose homes have been directly damaged, or the immediate family members of a person who has lost their life, as a direct result of the storms and floods," says Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud.

nsw floods where to get financial support
State Emergency Service workers navigate the flooded Hawkesbury River on March 23, 2021. Evacuation warnings are in place for parts of Western Sydney as floodwaters continue to rise. Photo: Mark Kolbe

You can apply for relief payments by contacting Services Australia on 180 22 66.

Banks

Some of the big banks have also rolled out assistance programs, as they did during last year's bushfires.

Commonwealth Bank is offering support on a case-by-case basis. Some options include customised payment arrangements for your home loan, credit card or personal loan; waiving fees and charges; temporary overdrafts, additional loans or emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval); and waiving fees and notice periods for early access to Term Deposits. CommInsure customers can also apply for emergency accommodation.

Flood-affected CBA customers can get the ball rolling by calling 1800 314 695.

National Australia Bank has also stepped up, providing $2000 grants for impacted customers. For further information, customers can contact NAB Assist on 1300 308 132.

Insurance

The floods will be followed by many insurance claims, but the damage may not be covered by your current policy.

Research from comparison site Mozo found that a fifth of all home insurance premiums don't automatically cover 'storm surge'. Instead, it's an optional extra.

This could lead to a nasty surprise for many claimants, with the research also showing that more than half of Aussies don't read the fine print on their insurance policies.

"With thousands of homeowners battling floodwaters across the country, it's a timely reminder to check you have the right insurance cover for your home," says Mozo spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

"If you haven't selected flood cover on your policy, the chances are as the waters recede you might find yourself with a costly clean-up bill and unable to claim," says Godfrey.

"Storm" is a distinct term from "flood". The former refers to damage caused by heavy rain and high wind while the latter typically refers to overflowing rivers, dams and seawater.

While it may be tempting to start repairs immediately and ask for cover later, make sure this doesn't infringe on your ability to make a claim.

"Emergency repairs can be a grey area in home insurance policies," says Godfrey.

"Our research found just over a third (34%) of insurers will not cover you if you make emergency repairs. So if you are tempted to start picking up the pieces, seek approval from your insurer first."

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
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