Hail which fell in Rosewood from the Halloween storms last year.
Hail which fell in Rosewood from the Halloween storms last year.

$1B storm damage bill looms: Help for insurance headaches

WITH only a quarter of building claims completed four months on from the Halloween hailstorms which battered Ipswich and Springfield, the damage bill is closing in on $1 billion.

More than 150 Springfield Lakes residents attended a community forum hosted by the Insurance Council of Australia on Wednesday night.

Forums will held at the Springlake Hotel on Thursday and Friday nights as well, giving people the chance to have one-on-one consultations with insurers.

Jezabel Drive in Springfield Lakes was badly affected by the hailstorms last year.
Jezabel Drive in Springfield Lakes was badly affected by the hailstorms last year.

It was one of the suburbs hit hardest by the storms in October last year and with tarps still covering the roofs of many homes in the area, another heavy storm struck on Tuesday night.

The damage bill now sits at about $930 million with more than 39,600 claims.

Sorting through issues with insurance companies continues to be a headache for those affected.

A February assessment of damage caused by the storms last year by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority covered 1756 properties.

It found 230 of those are still severely affected, which means the roof structure is significantly damaged and requires major repair.

More than 660 homes are considered to have moderate damage, another 245 have minor damage, 174 were unable to be assessed and 440 had no damage.

The initial assessment after the storms in October identified 520 properties with severe damage, 602 with moderate damage and 652 with minor damage.

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“Every week that goes by for each house without a roof or in need of major damage repairs, is another week of heartache and extreme stress for hundreds of impacted families,” Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said.

“More needs to be done to expedite the repairs.”

Local Disaster Management Group deputy chair and Ipswich division 4 councillor Kate Kunzelmann said Ipswich City Council is working with other government agencies, community organisations and charities in the recovery process.

The council will request the Insurance Council of Australia conduct a community forum in Rosewood to assist residents impacted in the city’s western suburbs.

“Council will continue to advocate for residents affected in the storm right across Ipswich with suburbs including Rosewood, Thagoona, Willowbank, Springfield and Springfield,” she said.

“The road to recovery is a long one and we will continue to highlight our community’s needs.”

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Andrew Hall said he understood the community’s frustration during the slow recovery process.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission inspecting properties in Springfield Lakes.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission inspecting properties in Springfield Lakes.

“The community forum and one-on-one consultations with insurers are an opportunity to understand more about the claims process, as well as meet with a representative of your insurer or the Insurance Council to discuss individual insurance claims,” Mr Hall said

Legal Aid Queensland offers free legal help for anyone who had property damaged in the storms and is having trouble with their insurer.

“Anyone needing legal help with their insurance claims, or anyone who has entered into an agreement with a someone not organised by their insurers, can access free legal help from Legal Aid Queensland,” consumer advocate Paul Holmes said.

Mr Holmes said people need to still be on their toes for anyone trying to take advantage in the wake of the wild weather.

“After a natural disaster damages homes and cars, we get reports of opportunists trying to make a shifty dollar from unwitting property owners and we have some basic tips to help people make informed decisions about repairs,” he said.

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“People need to check their insurance is up to date and covers them for damage from natural disasters like hail, storm, fire and flood damage.

“Being fully insured means there will be a series of clear steps they will need to go through if their property is damaged during a natural disaster.

“Firstly, if your home, property or car are damaged, lodge a claim straight away with your insurer or insurers. This will cost you nothing.

“If someone knocks on your door offering to lodge your claims for you, politely ask them to leave.

“Secondly, if someone arrives offering to repair your car and they weren’t organised by your insurer, don’t sign any contract, or give them your car keys.”

For free natural disaster legal information and advice call 1300 527 700 or visit here.

You can call the Insurance Council of Australia’s 24/7 hotline on 1800 734 621.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.



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