Record Number Of Insurance Claims For 2022 Floods In SE Queensland And Northern NSW
Ramsden Lawyers Litigation and Dispute Resolution team report that nearly 240,000 insurance claims have been lodged by homeowners affected by the February and March 2022 floods in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, resulting in an estimated incurred consumer loss of $5.76 billion. These numbers make it the costliest natural disaster in Australia’s history, surpassing Cyclone Tracey in 1974, the Newcastle earthquake in 1989, and the hailstorms in Eastern Sydney in 1999. A year after the floods, residents still experience significant repair delays and continue to live in temporary accommodations. Insurance bills have increased dramatically, and some insurance companies no longer insure for specific events.
Flood Damage Affects Thousands of Homeowners
The 2022 floods in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales still affect thousands of homeowners now waiting for their insurers to pay their claims or make vital repairs. In Brisbane, 23,400 properties were affected by the floods that occurred after three consecutive days of over 200mm rainfall, causing flash flooding of creeks and overland flow flooding in the city. Lismore in NSW saw record-breaking water heights with entire buildings wholly submerged. The Northern Rivers flood catastrophe, which led to 13 deaths and tens of thousands of properties damaged or left inhabitable, has reportedly cost taxpayers $4.6 billion in infrastructure improvement, rebuilding, and grants for individuals and businesses.
Insurance Bills Increasing and Some Events No Longer Insured
The rising insurance costs have become a significant concern as some insurance companies no longer insure for specific events. Residents who were not impacted by the floods but live on the same street or near flooding zones are now paying $8,000 to $15,000 on average per year instead of $4,000 to $6,000 on their insurance bills. In some instances, premiums have increased from roughly $2,000 annually to $25,000.
Rising Insurance Costs Make It Difficult to Ensure Adequate Protection
With the rising cost of living and drastic increases in insurance costs, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure adequate protection for homeowners and business owners. Some insurers impose embargoes on parts of the country, denying new policies to flood-affected areas. It is vital to have appropriate building and contents insurance when you are a homeowner and business interruption insurance if you are a business owner to protect your property and assets. Furthermore, it is also essential to regularly review insurance policies and seek out competitive quotes to ensure that you are adequately covered and only paying what is necessary for your insurance.
Tips for Making an Insurance Claim
If a disaster strikes and you need to make an insurance claim, Ramsden Lawyers Litigation and Dispute Resolution team advise you to contact your insurer immediately and report the damage. Understanding your policy and product disclosure statement and entitlements is essential, and collecting as much documentary evidence as possible to support your claims, such as photos or video footage of any damage to your property or belongings.
It’s also important to keep written notes of all your contact with the insurer, and don’t be afraid to challenge them on what you’re covered for or if they have offered you an amount that is less than what you expected to fix the damage or replace your property. Having a clear understanding of your insurance policy and advocating for yourself can make all the difference in getting the coverage and compensation you deserve.
What to Do if You’re Unhappy with the Insurer’s Decision?
If you believe the insurer has unfairly denied liability for your claim, you can have the decision reviewed by the insurer’s internal dispute resolution department. If the dispute persists, you can complain to AFCA. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) can help you reach an agreement with the insurer and award compensation for the losses you have suffered due to the insurer’s actions.
In 2022, the South-East QLD and Northern NSW floods saw 240,000 claims, of which only 81% have been closed. This means that an estimated 45,000 claims remain unresolved. Between 1 July 2022 and 31 December 2022, AFCA received 33% more complaints than the previous year. The independent regulator helped recover $5.9 million in compensation and refunds for policyholders affected by the Victorian and New South Wales floods in 2022.
RAMSDEN LAWYERS – HOW WE CAN HELP WITH MATTERS INVOLVING ATO INSURANCE DISPUTES
At Ramsden Lawyers, our Commercial Litigation team has extensive experience in handling insurance disputes of various types. We understand the strategies that insurance companies use to deny valid claims or offer insufficient compensation to customers. Suppose you need more support with how your insurer handles your claim. In that case, you need more support our team understands the complex legal and regulatory landscape of the insurance industry, and we have a track record of success in handling insurance disputes on behalf of our clients. If you are struggling you are your insurer’s handling of your claim, our team can provide you with the support and guidance you need to resolve the dispute and negotiate a fair settlement. We will work closely with you to understand your situation and provide you with tailored legal advice on your options and the best course of action to take.
Contact our dispute resolution team immediately for preliminary advice on your rights. We will assess the merits of your claim and provide you with an honest assessment on your prospects of succeeding in your claim. We will also guide you through the next steps to take to achieve the best possible outcome for you.