Australia’s bushfire season has started early.

We’re still weeks from summer’s official start, but large areas of the country have already been ravaged by bushfires.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s declaration of El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events have ramifications for weather patterns in Australia, so it’s worthwhile understanding what they mean.

The BoM says El Niño refers to the extensive warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean which leads to a major shift in weather patterns across the Pacific. This occurs every three to eight years and is associated with drier conditions in eastern Australia. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) describes the oscillation between the El Niño phase and its opposite, the La Niña, phase.

The IOD is similar to the ENSO, but in the Indian Ocean. A positive IOD means less rainfall over southern Australia and the Top End.

Those weather features combined paint a gloomy picture for bushfires, but sound risk management can help you be better prepared.

Insurer QBE has provided some useful tips to protect your home and business if you’re in a bushfire-prone area.

They include:

  • Mitigate the risk by ensuring gutters and roofs are clear of debris and flammable materials are securely stored away from the premises.
  • Have a business continuity plan – identify potential risks and how you can manage them. For example, what to do if a fire cuts access to your business premises.
  • Review your insurance policies – underinsurance is common after bushfires. How long since you valued your premises and stock? Consider, too, the costs of rebuilding or repairing after a fire. JMD Ross can advise you on some of the likely costs that need to be factored into your sum insured.
  • Document an inventory of your stock and equipment and store it off premises. That will ease the claims process and make coordinating with customers and suppliers much easier.
  • Consider business interruption insurance – this could save your business if you’re unable to trade after a bushfire.
  • Be prepared and be ready to leave quickly. Bushfires are unpredictable, so monitor advice services in your locality so you know when it’s time to protect your own safety and leave.

Please contact JMD Ross for assistance and risk management and insurance advice.


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