Flood insurance win after three years of heartache

STRESSFUL TIME: Shana Kimlin reflects on three difficult years since the 2011 flood waters swept through Grantham.
STRESSFUL TIME: Shana Kimlin reflects on three difficult years since the 2011 flood waters swept through Grantham. Claudia Baxter

GRANTHAM residents Shana and Warren Kimlin have finally received their insurance payout from the 2011 floods after three years of battling bureaucracy.

The Kimlins were at ground zero when their home and lucerne farm was hit by the floods.

While their home was damaged, their major insurance battle with WFI Wesfarmers has been over their farm shed. And they only finalised their insurance claim on January 2 this year.

"We had to go through their internal disputes resolution section a number of times and we also had to go through the Financial Ombudsman's Service (FOS) who determined in our favour back in February 2013," Ms Kimlin said.

"But still the insurance company was a pain in the butt and we had to approach FOS twice after that.

"A lot of our irrigation pipes were washed away, twisted and damaged because of the turbulent water that came through, but they declined us on that because they weren't stored in a secure enclosure.

"With our farm shed, the water went underneath the concrete slab and washed out the gravel from underneath. WFI originally declined our claim because they classed the washing out of the soil underneath as erosion.

"You can get over the disaster event, but we couldn't get over the bureaucratic bungles ... and the aftermath of the disaster.

"I had to have medication and go for counselling, and it all came back to the stress from the insurance company and council."

Ms Kimlin said Lockyer Valley Regional Council "dumped contaminated soil" on their land after the flood clean-up.

"They dumped soil with huge blue metal rocks and other rocks, car bumper bars and car parts, timber and tin ... all without our permission."

She said council "took a way a couple of mounds and buried the rest on our farm".

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones said there was rubbish everywhere after the floods and that "the army, volunteers, council and people with machinery from everywhere" all worked to move materials from roads, reserves and people's yards.

"They put them on a piece of cultivation, which was theirs (the Kimlins). But I know that there was work done by council to remove some of that," he said.

Ms Kimlin said council had also told residents on ground zero they would "receive a 100 % rates remission" for the first six months of 2011.

But she said she was not given the concession, so took the issue to the ombudsman.

"After two and a half years, the council said they would refund our rates, provided we signed a confidentiality agreement not to speak about our experience.

"When I am right, I never give up. I like to see the truth come out in everything and justice done."

Cr Jones conceded "there was a long ongoing battle with Kimlins" on the rate concessions.

"There was criteria you had to meet to get that concession and, at the time the Kimlins applied, they didn't meet the criteria.

"In the finish, council did give them some concession," he said.

Topics:  editors picks flood insurance grantham

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