East Ipswich resident Keith Parnell (right) gets his point across at Brothers Leagues Club.
East Ipswich resident Keith Parnell (right) gets his point across at Brothers Leagues Club. Rob Williams

Insurance chief faces fury

TEMPERS flared and emotions ran high as insurance chief Rob Whelan fronted a crowd of flood victims in Ipswich.

The Insurance Council of Australia chief executive was joined on stage at Brothers Leagues Club by assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten, Federal MP Shayne Neumann MP, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and Legal Aid Queensland lawyer Loretta Kreet.

Some people cried, some shouted and many clapped with approval as resident after resident told their story of anguish arising from dealing with insurance companies. About 120 people were at the meeting.

The chief point of anger at the forum was the new “F” word – flooding – specifically the difference between flash-flooding and riverine flooding.

Mr Whelan got a hint of the mood in the room as he tried to explain the difference.

“There is a difference and there is a difference for a reason,” Mr Whelan said. “Flash-flooding is covered by almost every insurance policy. Riverine is the problem.

“Flash-flooding is where there’s localised heavy rain that causes flooding. Riverine is where it’s raining somewhere else and the rivers rise and flood your property.”

“Bullshit. How can you say that?” Ian Bush from Wulkuraka snapped.

Simone Allard, from David Street, North Booval, one of the worst-affected suburbs in Ipswich, said she believed she was covered for flash-flooding.

“We were covered for flash-flooding but QBE won’t pay out,” she said.

“David Street flooded on Tuesday – before the Bremer flooded on the Wednesday.”

Mr Whelan said he would take up her case with the managing director of QBE.

Scott French, from One Mile, who believed he was covered for all types of flood, spoke for many people in the room as he struggled to talk through tears.

“I’ve got an eight-year-old daughter who wants to sleep in her bed – she can’t. I’ve got a wife who wants to go home – she can’t,” Mr French said.

“These stories are heart-wrenching,” the Mayor said later. “Some of these insurance companies need to be named and shamed.”



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