14TH ANNUAL CHOICE
10 OCTOBER 2019
The insurance industry
Shonky for Calamity after the storm goes to ...The insurance industry
As the 2011 Queensland, NSW and Victorian floodwaters receded, thousands of homeowners were left high and dry by insurance companies that rejected their claims. In some cases, policyholders failed to read their policies carefully.
In numerous others, insurers made it all but impossible to know whether they were covered for flood or not – or exactly what a "flood" is.
In April 2011, when the claims denials began to roll in, RACQ topped the list, followed by NRMA, CGU, AAMI, Allianz, QBE, and Comminsure, according to Queensland Legal Aid.
At least 20 other insurers had also denied claims at that point. Seven months on, about 8660 homeowners have been knocked back, or 15% of claims.
Queensland Legal Aid consumer protection lawyer, Catherine Uhr, told us there's been plenty of shonky behaviour by insurers.
"Insurance sales people had apparently been making sales without telling people there's a big hole in their policy. A lot of people thought they had no risk. I'm a lawyer who has been focusing pretty much exclusively on flood insurance since the floods happened, and there are some policies that I read and re-read and still don't understand what they're on about."
One little ray of sunshine was Suncorp Insurance, whose track record for paying claims after the same floods is laudable. Having researched flood risk and raised premiums accordingly, it was well placed to pay out claims. RACV has also been making compassionate payments to hundreds of affected Victorian customers.