Insurance companies called out on ‘secret directives’

Insurance companies have been put on notice over directives to limit claims

MARCH 1, 2019: I’M sounding a warning to insurance companies after what I’ve heard about ‘secret directives’ on what they will and won’t replace following the Townsville floods.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also issued his own warning to insurance companies during a media conference in Townsville this morning.

Industry insiders have informed me that insurance companies are providing secret directives to assessors to deliberately avoid tiles and other costly repairs in bathrooms.

I have been told that the directive is they’re not replacing tiles unless they’re ‘drummy’ or no longer secure, and that they don’t want to touch wall sheeting in wet areas such as bathrooms.

These are high cost areas for replacement, and rather than agreeing that floors and walls need to be completely replaced in houses that have been flooded, insurance companies will try and get around that by saying the wall sheeting should be exposed so it can dry out, but it doesn’t need to be replaced.

This will often go against the advice of builders, who would advise a complete replacement to avoid future problems.

I am told that if owners jump up and down and make a fuss about this, the insurer will relent. But people should not have to fight tooth and nail for the insurance cover they have diligently paid for over many years.

I have already asked Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert, and the ACCC itself, to step in as part of its ongoing investigation into the North Queensland insurance market and monitor what is happening in the wake of this extreme flood event.

It provides a great opportunity for the ACCC to investigate in real time how insurance companies respond to flood and cyclone events in North Queensland.

Following Cyclone Debbie, we saw repeated examples of insurance companies refusing to cover roofing.

Now with the Townsville floods it appears the target is tiles and bathroom walls.

I spoke directly to the Prime Minister about this in Townsville this morning, and he had this to say in reference to insurance companies.

“I put them on notice. You better show up. I can assure you if they do not turn up and if they apply blanket policies which seek to exclude people from getting the support they need, and to try and get the insurance companies off the hook, I will not hesitate to take whatever actions I have available to me to make sure you do.”

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