Insurance forum hears broken promises and 'systemic failing'
WHITSUNDAY insurance policy holders severely affected by Cyclone Debbie when she tore through the Whitsundays almost 14 moths ago have made submissions to the Royal Commission overseeing the the ongoing investigation into the finance and insurance sectors.
Royal Commission hearings relating the the insurance industry are expected to be heard in July.
Some of those policy holders also had a chance to tell their stories at a insurance policy forum convened by the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre and attended by major industry and community stakeholders on Monday in Proserpine.
A video was shown to the delegates in which policy holders candidly shared their frustration at lengthy insurance waits, one policy holder who contracted golden staff after being forced to live in unsanitary conditions made an impassioned plea for a claim resolution and children read letters addressed to insurance companies.
Executive officer at the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Rebecca Woods said it set the tone for the discussion that followed.
Present at the meeting was local stakeholder groups, insurance industry representatives, the forum was moderated by the member for Dawson, George Christensen.
David Keane a former insurance assessor who now operates the company Solve My Claim was at the meeting and said problems with claims in the wake of Cyclone Debbie exposed a "failing of the industry”.
"One of the biggest priorities of the insurance industry is to mitigate their loss,” he said.
"To an extent that is fine...but its gotten to the point in seeking to reduce those costs they have sacrificed independence, integrity, and competence.
"At every step they are trying to cut their own bottom line and that comes at the expense of policy holders.
"It has spiralled out of control and everyday people are suffering.”
Mr Keane he couldn't comment on the chance of insurance company bosses losing their jobs in the wake the impending Royal Commission.
"(However) when the unconscionable practises come to light I believe heads should roll”.
After 408 days on Monday some policy holders didn't have "an acceptable scope of works,” Ms Woods said.
"They can't even see the light at the send of the tunnel.”
At the forum a commitment from the industry to extend temporary accommodation for policy holders whose homes remain unliveable was assured, however the industry would not commit to a date in which outstanding claims would be finalised but said "every effort” would be made end claims quickly.
"But I am not convinced,” Ms Woods said.
Most companies have resolved 88-89 per cent of claims arising from Cyclone Debbie, a slight increase of four percent since November last year.
The Insurance Council of Australia's, Campbell Fuller confirmed companies had resolved to finalise outstanding claims as soon as possible.
"Insurers said 88 per cent of the Whitsunday claims had been closed and most remaining claims were close to completion,” he said.
He said there had been "challenges on resolving 1000s of complex claims in a remote region”.