Understand the risks

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IAG + Coles Insurance

Get to know the facts, risks and trends in your area

As we all remember, Australia’s 2019-2020 Black Summer was a time of unusually intense bushfires that spread across the country, affecting thousands of families and homes. Although fires have always been a natural part of the Australian landscape, our bushfire seasons are becoming longer and more severe.

So, it’s important to be aware of the risks, trends and contributing factors whether you’re staying at home, visiting a loved one or hitting the road this Summer.

Where and when fire occurs

Lately, we’ve been witnessing a faster increase in fire risk across numerous areas around Australia. This increase is largely seen on the Eastern Seaboard and on the coast of Western Australia. The risk in these areas is heightened by certain weather events, such as El Ninos, as well as persistently hotter and drier weather.

We also have areas in which a slower increase in fire risk has been observed. This new trend has developed due to cooler winds and sea breezes from the Southern Ocean.


(Provided by IAG) 

Bushfire risk across the seasons

While bushfires can happen at any time of year, the season(s) in which peak bushfire activity is expected to occur will vary depending on where you live. For residents in Southern Queensland and New South Wales, peak bushfire season occurs during spring and early summer. But for our Northern Australian friends, this period of time falls during their dry season – throughout winter and spring.

(Provided by IAG) 

*These graphics show where Australia’s bushfire risk is changing most rapidly. The diagrams are based on 40 years of data from the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), from 1978-2017. The FFDI measures the severity of bushfire weather conditions over the four seasons, based on factors including vegetation loads, slope, aspect and dryness.

What fuels a fire? 

A range of factors can contribute to how a bushfire starts, burns and spreads. But the main ones to watch out for are seasonal and local weather conditions, vegetation and terrain. 

 Weather

Weather conditions can influence the size, intensity, speed and predictability of bushfires. So, whether you’re parked at home or travelling around, just keep an eye out for things like high maximum temperatures, low afternoon humidity, higher wind speeds – its direction and atmospheric stability.

 Vegetation

Bushfires are fueled by vegetation. How hot the fire becomes and how fast it spreads depends on the nature of the vegetation, including its type, dryness, condition and quantity. Dead trees, dried leaves and dried plants are some of the more naturally combustible materials. 

 Slopes

If you ever cross paths with a bushfire, the shape of your surrounding land can have a strong effect on its behaviour. It’s important to keep in mind that a fire is likely to burn faster uphill and be more intense at the top of a hill or slope.

To check your cover or to make a claim, please visit: https://www.coles.com.au/insurance/make-a-claim

For more information or emergency assistance, reach out to your nearest district headquarters.

This page provides general advice only.  For up-to-date and specific advice relating to the risks in your area please speak to your local council or emergency services.