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Free legal help for Blue Mountains bushfire victims

21 Oct 2013

Residents affected by bushfires in the Blue Mountains region can obtain free legal help, including assistance with their insurance claims, and any issues relating to paying their mortgages.

"Insurance policies can be complex and getting legal advice early is important for people whose home and property has been damaged in the fires," said Steve O'Connor, Acting CEO of Legal Aid NSW.
 
"Residents should also know that banks have obligations to assist their customers who are facing these types of difficulties."
  
"We encourage bushfire-affected residents in the Blue Mountains region to see Legal Aid lawyers at the Disaster Recovery Centre at the Presbyterian Church, 160 Macquarie Road, Springwood (opens from 10am  Tuesday 22 October ), or call us directly on (02) 9219 5723," said Mr O’Connor.

Once residents, their families and livestock are safe, people affected by the fires should consider taking these steps:

  • Contact their insurance company to start the claim even if returning home is not yet possible
  • Check what emergency or temporary accommodation payments are included in the insurance policy
  • Contact insurers and lenders if urgent financial assistance is needed.

Lawyers can provide free legal help with:

  • insurance claims
  • changing mortgage payments and credit commitments due to loss of income from bushfires
  • issues for tenants whose rented properties are seriously damaged by fire.

The Insurance Council of Australia's Catastrophe Hotline (1800 734 621) can assist people affected by bushfires who do not have a copy of their insurance paperwork.

The Insurance Law Service (1300 663 464) can also help with insurance claims.

A fact sheet – Bushfires – know your rights is available under Legal help for victims of natural disasters.

A more detailed guide, Bushfire Insurance Guide, is available to download from the Insurance Law Service.

Further information for residents is also available at www.disasterassist.gov.au, including details of financial assistance provided by the Federal government for disaster victims.
 
Media contacts: Julie Maron: 0408 662 289 or Monique Hitter: 0417 659 293