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Does Your Strata Insurance Cover These Most Common Claims?

Date published: 26th September 2023, updated 11th June 2024

As a strata owner, having the right insurance can make all the difference in protecting the common property from damage. Accidents can happen, regardless of how careful we may be – from property damage caused by natural disasters or even vandalism. That’s why it’s beneficial to know the most common strata claims so that you can do your best to protect your property, occupants, and insurance premiums.

In this article, we list the most common strata insurance claims in Australia and offer practical tips to prevent those common risks.

Most common claims

At CHU, Australia's leading strata insurance provider, we cover over 1 million strata units, villas and townhouses across Australia. We have a team of claims experts that can assist clients from claims lodgement right through to handing back the keys. We offer an end-to-end claims management process providing peace of mind especially if the unexpected occurs.

The most common claims in strata insurance can vary, but they often include:

1. Storm Damage

Australia is prone to severe weather events, including storms, hail, and cyclones. These can cause damage to roofs, windows, and external structures.

Prevention tip:

  • Keep up to date with local weather updates. 
  • Develop an emergency plan that includes safety procedures for occupants in the event of a storm.
  • Secure loose items such as outdoor furniture that may act as projectiles in strong winds.
  • Install storm shutters or screens (particularly if you’re in a storm-prone area).
  • Trim overhanging tree branches near buildings to minimise the risk of fallen tree damage.

2. Water Damage

 These are among the most frequent in strata insurance. This can result from burst pipes, leaking roofs, faulty plumbing, or flooding. Flexi hoses which are used to connect water to taps and fixtures are a common cause of water damage. Many owners do not realise that these hoses rust or fray over time. They have a lifespan and need to be replaced by a professional.

Prevention tip:

  • Clear out roof gutters and drain pipes to prevent water pooling and flooding.
  • Replace old hoses and fittings with durable, high-quality hoses and fittings.
  • Conduct routine inspections of plumbing fixtures, fittings, and pipes. Promptly replace leaky or broken taps and shower heads. Regularly maintain toilets and communal washing machines.
  • Conduct regular roof inspections and have a professional replace missing or broken tiles to prevent water leaks and building damage.
  • Look out for water stains on walls and ceilings. 
  • Monitor water pressure to prevent burst pipes.
  • Seal windows and doors with caulking or weather-stripping to prevent water from entering the building.
  • Educate residents on how to prevent water damage, e.g. avoiding flushing inappropriate items down the toilet, turning off taps when not in use, and reporting leaks or blocked drains. 

3. Burst Pipes

Burst or damaged pipes can lead to extensive water damage within the strata property. Burst pipes can cause flooding, structural damage, and the need for repairs to both common areas and individual units.

Prevention tip:

  • Properly insulate any exposed pipes to prevent pipe freezing.
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify any leaks, cracks, or corrosion.
  • Check the condition of flexi hoses – typically found under sinks and vanities and connected to toilets. Replace every 10 years. 
  • Educate residents on where to find water isolation taps inside the unit and at the main valve in the event of a burst pipe.
  • Install pressure limiting valves at the mains to reduce the pressure on water pipes and joints. 
  • Check for signs of mould outside kitchen or bathroom areas, as this is a good indicator of a plumbing problem.

4. Glass Breakage

This can occur to windows, doors, or shower screens within the strata property. This often results from accidents, vandalism, or extreme weather events. Strata insurance typically covers the replacement or repair of damaged glass elements in the building.

Prevention tip:

  • Install safety glass or double glazing in common areas prone to damage such as doors, windows, and glass partitions. 
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify any chips, cracks, or blemishes. Repair or replace damaged glass promptly. 
  • Install security cameras and main entry points to deter vandals and to review footage if any glass damage occurs. 
  • Install protective window film or shutters to reduce damage to property windows.
  • Install window guards or bars on ground-level windows to reduce vandalism or break-ins.
  • Trim trees or shrubs near windows to reduce the risk of damage.
  • Have a designated area for ball sports to prevent accidental glass breakage.

5. Fire Damage

Fires, whether accidental or due to arson, can cause significant damage to strata properties. Insurance covers repair or replacement of damaged structures and property due to fire.

Prevention tip:

  • Instruct residents not to leave candles or incense burners unattended.
  • Install and regularly inspect/replace fire alarms in all common areas and units.
  • Promote safe charging and storage of E-Bikes and lithium battery-operated devices.
  • Provide designated smoking areas and places to dispose of cigarette butts.
  • Install fire extinguishers and fire blankets in common areas.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain BBQs, kitchen appliances, and communal appliances such as dryers.
  • Have electrical systems and wiring inspected by a licensed electrician. Conduct regular electrical audits to prevent issues that relate to overloaded circuits and outdated wiring.
  • Keep BBQs and heaters at least one metre away from objects.
  • Ensure all fire pits have a fire shield in place. 
  • Have a fire evacuation plan in place. Display evacuation routes and procedures in common areas. 
  • Consult with a fire safety expert and ensure you undergo a property fire safety inspection at least once a year.

6. Vandalism and Malicious Damage

Acts of vandalism and malicious damage can occur in common areas, car parks, or individual units. Insurance can help cover the cost of repairs for broken windows, doors, walls and new locks.

Prevention tip:

  • Install well-placed CCTV cameras to monitor main entry points such as the driveway and entrances into your strata property.
  • Install motion-detecting security lights in the driveway, entryway, and common areas.
  • Consider adding swipe cards or smart locks to shared parking spaces, gyms, and recreational areas. 
  • Secure entry points with key fobs or access codes.
  • Erect fencing and gates around the property to restrict unwanted access,
  • Post signage around the property alerting vandals that they are being monitored.
  • Encourage residents to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or incidents of vandalism.

7. Accidental Damage

Accidental damage arises when damage to the insured property is caused by sudden and unforeseen circumstances such as damaged walls when moving and damaged benchtops due to hot saucepans being placed on them.

Prevention tip:

  • Keep communal areas free from tripping hazards. Check for damaged carpets or any objects outside doors and stairwells. 
  • Provide clear instructions for the proper use of communal amenities.
  • Encourage residents to use furniture sliders and padding when moving furniture to prevent accidental damage to floors and walls.
  • Provide cutting boards and placemats in communal kitchens to prevent scratches and burns on countertops.
  • Install safety gates and childproofing in recreational areas.
  • Regularly inspect communal appliances and utensils to prevent accidental injury.
  • Have designated pet spaces and implement leash rules in communal areas.

8. Impact Damage 

Strata buildings are covered for damage caused by third party vehicles such as a car colliding with the building or common property.

Prevention tip:

  • Provide clearly marked parking bays and parking guidelines.
  • Install bollards or barriers in between car parks and buildings to prevent accidental collisions.
  • Install guardrails along driveways and property perimetres.
  • Install speed bumps or have clear signage alerting drivers to reduce speed limits when entering the property.
  • Consider installing controlled access gates or pin/fob access at the entrance to prevent unauthorised vehicles from entering. 
  • Have a designated visitor parking area.
  • Use plants or fencing to act as a barrier between pedestrian areas and driveways.
  • Use reflective markers on curbs and roadside structures.
  • Install adequate lighting in parking areas, driveways, and pedestrian walkways. 

9. Public Liability Claims

 Liability claims may arise if someone is injured, or their property is damaged. Strata insurance typically includes public liability coverage to address these claims.

Prevention tip:

  • Prevent slipping hazards by encouraging residents to clean up spills in communal areas. Provide adequate paper towels and cleaning equipment.
  • Install handrails and non-slip flooring in high-traffic areas such as communal bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. 
  • Apply anti-slip strips on steps/stairways.
  • Keep high-traffic areas clear of any obstructions. 
  • Equip communal areas with safety equipment including first aid kits.
  • Establish a clear and simple system for residents to report any issues.
  • Stay vigilant. Keep an eye out for any safety hazards and address them promptly.

10. Office Bearers Liability Claims

Sometimes an owner may deem a decision that has been made by an office bearer (including the committee) on behalf of the owners to be wrongful or incorrect and take legal action. Office Bearers liability provides protection for those committee members against these allegations and can cover their legal and defence costs.

Prevention tip:

  • Educate yourself and fellow committee members about your roles, responsibilities, and potential liabilities.
  • Stay updated on any changes in legislation or regulations that may affect your strata scheme.
  • Have clear policies and procedures in place – including rules for maintenance, safety procedures, and financial management.
  • Conduct regular meetings and regularly update committee members and tenants on important matters and decisions that may affect them.
  • Maintain accurate bookkeeping, keeping records of all meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, and other important documents. 
  • Regularly review your finances and budget.
  • Seek professional help – whether it’s a financial advisor, lawyer, or insurance company, don’t hesitate to ask for advice on managing your strata property.

The importance of comprehensive strata insurance

It's important for strata property owners, strata managers and insurance broker to carefully review their strata insurance policy to understand what is covered under the policy and what may require additional coverage.

Insurance needs can vary depending on the location, type of property, and the risks associated with the property (past claims, defects or other risk factors).

Regular maintenance and risk mitigation measures can help reduce the likelihood of claims and associated costs and having a comprehensive strata insurance policy in place provides piece of mind to owners.

CHU make it easy to lodge a claim, you can do so 24/7 via our website or contact our claims team.