Fuelled by strong winds and 38C temperatures, the fire quickly tore through the heavily forested semi-rural communities. During the course of the afternoon, fire crews and water bombers fought an ever-growing and fast-moving fire front. Worst impacted was the community of Gidgegannup, where 80% of properties in the Tilden Park estate were lost.
For Capricorn Member Aaron Ward, owner of AEW Mechanical and Electrical, the fire still seemed a distant threat. Although his workshop is based on his parents’ property in Gidgegannup, the fire was many kilometres away, on the opposite side of the district. His parents were away in Queensland at the time and on the day of the fire Aaron wasn’t actually at the workshop; he was working for a customer down on the flats in Guildford, about 35 minutes away.
“I’d looked on the radar and the fire wasn’t anywhere close to me,” Aaron said. “We weren’t even in the amber (warning) area.
“Then I got a call from Emily, my Capricorn Risk Account Manager. She’s obviously quite good at what she does because she’d been looking to see if any Members were likely to be affected by the fire and was keeping an eye on it. She said the fire was moving pretty quickly; it had doubled in size in the last half-hour. She said I might want to get out there.”
By the time Aaron got to the house, the daylight “looked like dusk”. The fire was still 5 km away but there was ash falling from the sky and the glare of flames on the horizon. Aaron grabbed his dog and a couple of laptops and fled to safety.
The house was lost to the fire. His workshop was heavily warped and the heat had completely destroyed his tools. Several customer vehicles were damaged.
“If it wasn’t for Emily giving us a call, to be honest, we could also have been caught in the flames if we left it any later,” Aaron said.
The scale of the fire’s destruction was devastating but, fortunately, Aaron had tools and equipment protection with Capricorn Risk Services.
“Realistically, I should have probably covered myself a little bit more,” he said. “But just the fact that I was insured for all my tooling and equipment was a big saviour.”
Aaron recommends Members double-check their policies to ensure they have adequate coverage — and particularly recommends checking that damage to customers’ vehicles is covered.
Fortunately for Aaron, he is able to do mobile work until he can rebuild his business.
The Gidgegannup fire burned almost 11,000 hectares over seven days, destroying 86 homes. Early insurance claim estimates suggest the fire cost $40 million. Aaron received close to $50,000 thanks to his coverage with CRS.
If you aren’t a CRS Member, contact CRS to ask about our protection products.
Capricorn Mutual Members this year are receiving a Member Loyalty Rebate. In July 2021, $6 million will be shared amongst eligible Members.* Whilst a rebate is not guaranteed in any given year, it is another way in which Capricorn Mutual (a subsidiary of Capricorn Risk Services) demonstrates its commitment to its Members.
* If you are a Capricorn Mutual Member, visit capricorn.coop/risk for more information on your eligibility.
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