People recovering from natural disasters such as cyclones, fires, bushfires and floods often feel overwhelmed by the legal issues that can arise. These can include problems with finances, insurance claims, temporary accommodation, and loan repayments.
If you have experienced a natural disaster and are facing issues like these, you may need legal advice. It is important to get advice about your individual situation.
Quick Answers Video: Natural disasters
|Download the fact sheet for this video|
- where to get legal help after a natural disaster
- what type of problems you can get help with
- other organisations that may be able to help.
Can we help?
Legal advice and assistance
Legal Aid WA and our partner organisations are committed to ensuring all people affected by the natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones receive legal help.
We provide free independent legal advice in relation to civil law problems.
In some instances we may also be able to provide minor assistance to help resolve a legal problem. This help may include advocacy, negotiation, or help to lodge an application to the relevant Ombudsman, eg Australian Financial Complaints Authority Ombudsman or Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
If you experience any of the following civil law issues after a natural disaster, call the Infoline or contact your nearest Legal Aid WA office for free legal advice and referrals.
Insurance issues, where:
- your insurance papers have been destroyed and you don’t know who your insurer is
- you need assistance with lodging a claim
- you are unsure what your policy covers
- your house has been completely destroyed and your insurance company is requiring you to provide an itemised list of your home’s contents
- you are underinsured, or
- you disagree with the valuation provided by the assessor or your claim has been refused.
Mortgage or debt issues including where:
- you are finding it difficult to meet your home or other loan repayments because of the natural disaster
- you are seeking help to vary your loan contract due to hardship or financial difficulty
- court action is being threatened, or
- you are hoping to access your superannuation to help pay your debts.
Property issues, where:
- you have made an offer to buy a property but it was then destroyed or damaged
- your property was damaged or burnt down and you have now got an offer for it
- your destroyed property was used as security for your mortgage or loan on that (or another) property, or
- you owe tradespeople for work on the property.
Housing issues, where:
- you are renting and the house is unfit to live in or requires repairs
- you are insured and need help with accessing additional accommodation funding under your insurance policy, or
- you want help negotiating a rent reduction due to damage to the property.
Replacing important documents such as:
- Marriage certificates
- Birth certificates
- Motor vehicle drivers licences.
How can I best prepare for a future natural disaster?
It is a good idea to be legally prepared before a natural disaster such as a cyclone or a bushfire.
It is important to make sure your insurance is up-to-date and that you have the right cover for fire and flood.
Keep the following sorts of important documents in a disaster kit ready to pick up if you must leave your home quickly:
- birth certificates
- marriage certificate
- leasing agreement
- Medicare number
- health insurance fund details
- tax file number
- superannuation details
- current insurance policies
- bank account and credit card numbers
- title deeds
- mortgage papers
- will and
- a list of all your valuables belongings, and
- a description of your home.
You may also be able to scan your documents and store them electronically. Keep your kit in a secure place.
- Mortgage stress - a self help guide
- WA floods - legal advice and assistance
- WA floods - insurance claims
- WA bushfires - legal advice and assistance
- WA bushfires - insurance claims
- Natural disasters - debt
- Natural disasters - property
- Natural disasters - renting issues
- Department of Communities - This government department is responsible for coordinating the provision of welfare support services to people affected by an emergency or disaster in WA.
- Australian Financial Complaints Authority - 1800 931 678 and fact sheet: Natural disasters: are you experiencing financial difficulty
- Services Australia for Centrelink assistance
- Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements WA
- Australian Government Disaster Assist
- Consumer Credit Legal Service WA - (08) 9221 7066
- LifeLine WA - 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue - 1300 224 636
- National Debt Helpline - 1800 007 007
- MoneySmart - hints if your home has been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.
- Australian Taxation Office for what help the ATO can give you after a natural disaster
Reviewed: 11 October 2022