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Insurers Under Fire: Melbourne Floods Reveal Gaps and Mismatches

Insurers Under Fire: Melbourne Floods Reveal Gaps and Mismatches

Residents from western Melbourne have voiced sharp disapproval of insurance companies at the recent federal inquiry hearings held in Maribyrnong, citing significant grievances post the 2022 floods.

Madeleine Serle, Chair of the Maribyrnong Community Recovery Association, described the industry's response to the floods that hit in October and November 2022 as “unacceptably poor,” underscoring a severe letdown in expected assistance.

“It became evident fairly quickly in Maribyrnong that the very people who were supposed to assist us had utterly failed,” Serle asserted.

“The delays we faced seemed purposeful, alongside layers of confusion and inefficiency. Tasks that needed completion didn’t see the light of day, documentation vanished into thin air, and work scopes were altered in misleadingly frequent manners.

“I’ve never observed such a dysfunctional mix in any business sector. The rampant chaos, disorganization, resource misallocation, and mismanagement of subcontractors were beyond belief.”

Wennie van Riet, leading the Mental Health and Wellbeing Project at GenWest, highlighted the complexity of understanding insurance policies, which many customers found to be written in overly complicated jargon. “Policy terms are often presented in a manner only those with specialized higher education could decipher,” van Riet critiqued.

She emphasized that educating policyholders and better disaster preparedness could significantly improve their experiences and outcomes.

Another focal point was the issue of inadequate cash settlements. Various community groups have advocated for insurers to alter their methods.

“Insurers need to carefully assess whether individuals can sufficiently handle cash settlements and the ensuing project management risks,” Anglicare Victoria Financial Counsellor Kathryn Swinton explained. “It’s imperative that people understand taking cash places the project management responsibility squarely on their shoulders.”

Concerns about flood insurance affordability were also brought to the forefront. Moonee Valley Mayor Pierce Tyson reported staggering premium hikes by 50% since the flooding occurred.

“We worry that properties in Maribyrnong could become uninsurable—not in the distant future, but maybe even soon,” Tyson cautioned.

The Maribyrnong hearing marked the start of a series of three such inquiry sessions in Victoria.

Published:Thursday, 16th May 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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