Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten met with the Insurance Council of Australia to discuss insurance claims in the face of the Queensland floods.
“When I was Parliamentary Secretary for Bushfire Recovery after the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, I worked closely with the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) to coordinate insurance arrangements to assist the community and government to respond to the event,” Mr Shorten said.
“Doing the same again for victims of the devastating Queensland floods is only good sense and I am pleased the insurance companies and the ICA are responding so quickly to these difficult circumstances.”
Insurers will be processing claims as quickly as possible on a case by case basis, taking into account the terms of the policy purchased by the consumer, the circumstances of the loss and the requirements of the industry Code of Practice. Not all insurance policies will cover policyholders for this type of flood event. Policy holders should contact their insurer for clarification.
“It is too early to estimate the full cost of insurance claims, as many property owners have yet to gain access to their properties in order to assess the damage and lodge a claim. We believe about 1800 residential properties have over-floor flooding.”
“Both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments are working closely with a taskforce of 24 insurance companies, all with clients potentially exposed to the event, to coordinate the recovery and rebuilding efforts for insured flood victims.”
Policyholders making a claim can assist the process by developing an inventory of lost and damaged items, as well as photographing the damage sustained and keeping samples or records of any materials that have had to be removed from the property.
Insurance experts have been sent to existing recovery centres. As one-stop-shops are established by government similar representation will be provided as a community resource in each location where a need exists.
Flood victims are encouraged, if they have not already done so, to contact their insurer to lodge a claim or to determine their eligibility to make a claim under the policy they have purchased.
There is a dispute resolution process for insurance claims that is free to consumers and binding on insurance companies. Any consumer with a dispute is encouraged to use this process. In the first instance consumers can request that the insurance company review its decision to deny a claim – this is called internal dispute resolution. If the consumer remains unhappy with the outcome after internal dispute resolution, a dispute may be lodged with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
“The Government is working closely with the insurance industry to minimise any potential problems with accessing insurance claims and we urge anyone affected by the floods to contact their insurance companies as early as possible,” Mr Shorten said.
A 24 hour insurance hotline is operating for members of the community who have questions about insurance, or who have lost paperwork and need assistance in identifying their insurer. The hotline number is 1300 728 228 and to date has assisted in excess of 100 property owners with information.
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