Many NSW farmers are badly underinsured, according to a Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre study.
The centre was asked to research community preparedness following fires across NSW at the start of last year. The fires destroyed houses, outbuildings, livestock, machinery and fences in Currandooley, Carwoola and Sir Ivan, but no lives were lost.
The study found about half of survey respondents threatened or affected by bushfire left or were away from their property during the fires. The half who stayed usually did so to protect property and livestock.
“Many agricultural landholders were significantly underinsured or uninsured for some assets,” the report says.
“While most had full home and contents insurance, many could not afford to fully insure livestock, fences and other assets.”
Survey respondents were clear that cost was the main driver of underinsurance.
“It would be nice to say we’ll insure every building and every bit of machinery, every head of stock and all your fencing,” one said.
“But you’d spend your life to pay your insurance policy. You’ve got to work out what you can save, what you can insure and what you can’t.”
Another noted fences are too expensive to cover.
“Basically I never insure them,” he said. “I have inquired a few times, but when you look at the price you think, ‘Well, if I have dodged the bullet for two years, I’ve saved that much anyway.’ It is that ridiculously priced, I just cannot afford it.”
The survey also found people tend to underestimate risks on days where the fire danger level is not catastrophic, and most wait until they can see a fire before deciding whether to leave.