Extinguishing Financial Fires


Hi Scott,

My mother’s home in Nymboida (northern NSW) was tragically lost in the bushfires that ravaged the community last weekend. My mother has spent the last 30 years building a beautiful home yet, within hours of evacuation, the entire place was wiped out. We contacted NRMA for a house and contents claim, only for them to insist we itemise everything — yet it’s all gone! In your book you mention you were able to demand payment in full after your house burned down. Is there a script that we can use to achieve the same?


Scott's Answer

Hi Mel,

Give your mum a hug for me.

Your mum has just gone through a significant, stressful life event — so understandably she may not be in the right frame of mind to make far-reaching financial decisions, let alone battle an insurance company.

There are two things to consider: reimbursement for your contents, and managing the rebuild process.

While I haven’t read your mum’s policy, most insurers have what’s known as a ‘sum insured’ value. Once they’ve established her home has been destroyed, they should pay that figure out as a lump sum for contents almost immediately. Don’t let them play games with your mum: go back to NRMA and tell them that it’s far too traumatic to make her itemise everything she’s lost. Tell them to pay up the contents insurance pronto (and if they give you any stick, write back to me).

But when it comes to getting a lump sum for her rebuild, I’d be wary. Yes, I did it, but I was confident of managing the entire rebuild myself (and investing the proceeds in the meantime). However, if the onus of the rebuild is on your mum (rather than having the insurer manage it), that could be pretty stressful … and that’s the last thing she needs right now. Let the insurer deal with it.