Victoria’s recent magnitude 6 earthquake seemed like a rare event, but Australia experiences an earthquake daily, as Geoscience Australia shows. Luckily, we only get the magnitude five and above ones that do damage typically twice a year, but there will also be 80 magnitude 3 earthquakes, as well as larger ones annually. Expect magnitude 5.8 to 6 quakes every four to 20 years, though, experts say.
Aussie earthquakes usually stay under magnitude 8 because our country doesn’t have large or active enough fault lines for that kind of force to happen. A fault line is a fracture or area of fractures, deep in the Earth along these geological plates.
And it can cause much damage if it happens in a built-up area. The 1989 Newcastle NSW quake caused $4.244 billion in insurance losses. As for the Victorian quake, the Insurance Council of Australia had received 9,850 claims by 5 October worth an estimated $147 million in losses. Most related to minor damage in homes, but a handful related to significant structural damage.
How to prepare your business for a natural disaster
It could be weeks or months before your business is fully operational after a disaster such as an earthquake. So, now’s the time to check around your business premises and securely fasten shelves and wall hangings to minimise the risk of injury and damage.
- Creating a business continuity plan, including disaster recovery, that you update after doing your annual risk assessments
- Training your staff to cope with emergency situations, including first aid
- Ensuring at least three people know how to do every job in your company (incorporate virtual or augmented reality training)
- Backing up your important business data and storing the backup up off-site
- Brainstorming now for how you can diversify your company’s offerings through, for example, products, services, or passive income streams
- Planning for how you’ll maintain communication channels, including alternative ones to keep workers, clients, and customers informed
- Keeping a cash reserve and emergency supplies.
Importantly, get in touch with us to ensure your current policy’s limits will adequately cover full replacement of your company’s essential plant and equipment. We will also be able to assist with business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
As well, read up on community resilience during disasters. An emerging risk-management approach is to use online simulation so your teams can get experience of crises in a safe and risk-free environment. Research shows they’ll also be able to learn from their failures and successes and debrief with you. And real-life earthquake survivors may experience a general progression of emotions from shock, hysteria, confusion, fear, sometimes a manic state or emotional highs, then disillusionment and depression. That highlights some vulnerabilities for which you may need to plan.
What to do after a natural disaster
When a disaster strikes, ensure the safety of both you and your staff first. If you think there’s structural damage – it could be hidden – move off the premises and contact the SES. There may be aftershocks, and while they won’t be as hefty, they could cause more damage.
Please call us before you start cleaning up and removing items. That’s crucial even if you can’t gauge the total damage. We’ll explain what you’ll need to do to help streamline your insurance claim. That might include photographing and recording damage or waiting until we organise an insurance assessor to visit before you can start cleaning.
Don’t risk doing your own repairs as you may not be covered for them. You can do reasonable fixes to minimise your losses though, such as covering a broken roof with a tarp or securing undamaged goods in another part of your premises.
We can guide you in collecting evidence of any urgent financial need so you can secure an advance payment as soon as possible. We can assist a business with obtaining the necessary documentation to assist in progressing your claim and ensure you claim everything that you are entitled to.
Insurance for natural disasters
You can protect your business from the financial consequences of disasters with property insurance and business interruption insurance. We can review your policies with you to ensure you have cover for earthquakes and the policy limits to suit your risks. Some commercial property insurance policies apply an additional excess to pay out a claim for earthquakes. Talk to us so we can help your business build resilience in the face of the next quake or disaster.