When bushfires ravaged the East-Gippsland region in Victoria last summer, more than 320,000 hectares was burnt, and lives were tragically lost.
Cattle farmer Neil had his property destroyed by the bushfires in January, wiping out valuable infrastructure such as fencing, yards, two sheds full of hay and pasture.
Through all the destruction, Neil said that Achmea, his farm insurer for several years, had been vital in getting his farming operation back on track.
His reflections form part of Achmea’s Keeping Farmers Farming series, with Neil speaking to Achmea Regional Manager Lori Vamvas just one week after the bushfires and catching up again a few months later.
The Keeping Farmers Farming series was developed by Achmea to help support the resilience of the agricultural sector in these unprecedented times.
“What I am pleased about is that the farm was insured, I have had fences covered, machinery covered, hay covered, shed covered and I think, if you are farming and you don’t have some sort of coverage and you live in an area where it is susceptible to fire, then I don’t think you’re looking after your business,” Neil said.
Neil said Senior Achmea Farm Insurance Specialist David Ross visited his farm within just a few days of the fire to check in on him, with Achmea offering immediate financial assistance.
“So for me, how quickly that has happened was tremendous; it took a lot of stress off me, which I had a lot of, to know that I already had that money in the bank with the rest also done very quickly,” Neil said.
Neil was pleased to receive a visit personally from Achmea Chief Executive Officer Emma Thomas, who travelled through Victoria with Lori and David to meet with bushfire-impacted clients.
“As Australia’s specialist farm insurer, we have a strong purpose, which is to keep farmers farming. Despite these catastrophic losses, rebuilding livelihoods and getting farms back up and running again is at the heart of our approach,” Emma said.
Reflecting on his claims experience, Neil said the backing of Achmea allowed him to get back farming as quickly as possible.
“So it ties up a lot of money and to know that the insurance company has got onto that really quickly was a big relief for me, and I was able to get on with doing the job I need to do, knowing that I have got the backing of the company.
“Yes, that makes life a lot easier. As there was an understanding of the circumstances, the process of claiming was quick and painless.”
When Lori checked in with Neil a few months later, the road to recovery was looking bright for the family.
Lori said she was pleased to hear that repair work and clean up was all done, the yards were fixed, and a new shed was set to be installed.
She said overall, Neil was close to considering himself as being back on track.
“Not only does this mean that this family can keep farming, it enables Neil and his wife to think about resuming the ‘trip of a lifetime’ which was cut short by the bushfires, and of course again by the restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lori said.
As Australia’s specialist farm insurer, Achmea is using the Keeping Farmers Farming series to share important risk management strategies, stories from farmers and insurance insights to help protect the livelihoods and business continuity of farmers around the country.
Feature Image: Achmea Southern Manager Lori Vamvas, Neil Henderson and Achmea Senior Farm Insurance Specialist David Ross