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09 February 2011

Ipswich Flood Update: Insurers blame weather bureau

TORMENTED flood victims say insurance companies are turning their backs on them as they are buried in more and more red tape.

Tammy and Stephen Tarrant and son William are hoping RACQ will pay.

TORMENTED flood victims say insurance companies are turning their backs on them as they are buried in more and more red tape.

A month after the floods hit Ipswich, many people say they can't even get their insurer to assess their claim, let alone settle it.

Rumours have also surfaced that Ipswich people won't be in line for automatic flood damage cover while those in the Lockyer Valley will.

They are expected to be covered by their policies, given their damage was as a result of stormwater, while damage in Ipswich was a result of flooding, something not automatically covered by most insurers.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) denied that, saying it had to wait for its hydrologist panel's report into the floods.

ICA announced on January 28 that a panel of "independent hydrologists (would) support policyholders and speed up the claims process".

Chief executive Rob Whelan said the panel would prepare "plain English reports describing the causes, nature and severity of flooding".

He said the work of the hydrologist panel would need technical data from councils, Seqwater, the State Government and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

ICA yesterday claimed delays in BoM getting information to them was slowing down the panel's process.

"The sooner they release the information, the sooner the hydrologists can use it and the sooner the report can come out," a spokesman said.

Grantham resident Bob Meredith was relieved to learn he would get a pay-out after his home and its contents were destroyed by a wall of water on January 10.

"I contacted my insurance company almost straight away and it's taken them all this time to get back to me," Mr Meredith said.

"Finally, they came back to me and told me I was covered and paid me out. It's a huge relief."

By contrast, Ipswich couple Tammy and Stephen Tarrant have resorted to organising a protest to resolve their insurance wrangle.

The Tarrants said their East Ipswich home was flooded by storm water run-off about 12 hours before the major flooding.

"We were confident we were covered," Mr Tarrant said.

"Our cover isn't for riverine flooding; it's for flash flooding."

Mrs Tarrant said they were hit by "an insured event" yet they had been denied emergency accommodation by the RACQ.

"I've cried, I've begged, I've pleaded; I've yelled a couple of times out of sheer frustration," she said.

The protest will be at their Barry Street home on Saturday, from 10 am to 3pm. They've even had T-shirts made up by a Gold Coast woman and are expecting 60 people.

"Individually we haven't been able to get anywhere; maybe collectively we can get something done," Mr Tarrant said.

RACQ told the Tarrants its investigation "suggests that some or all of your damage may not be covered by your policy."

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale hit out at the time insurance companies were taking to deal with flood-affected people.

"I just want the insurance companies to start showing a bit on compassion and stop being such mongrels," he said. "You can't tell people whose houses were flooded they have to wait for a hydrologist report."

MEETING TIMES

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), Legal Aid Queensland and the Financial Ombudsman Service are hosting three community meetings for flood-affected people, starting last night in Ipswich. They are:

Tonight at Goodna State School, 1 Albert Street, Goodna from 7pm to 9pm (RSVP at www.guest.cvent.com/d/pdqgql/4W).

Tomorrow night at Karalee State School, Summervilles Road, Karalee from 7pm to 9pm (RSVP at www.guest.cvent.com/d/wdqgql/4W).

ICA says it will be an opportunity for people to raise specific issues with the keynote speakers.

People who can't RSVP online should call the Ipswich City Council Community Development Branch on 3810 6655.

www.QT.com.au

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