The House Standing Committee on Economics will hold its first public hearings over the next four weeks as part of its inquiry into insurers’ responses to claims resulting from the major floods in 2022.
Many thousands of people were affected by the floods all along the east coast – from south-east Queensland down to Tasmania.
The trauma is continuing for many people – with delays in being rehoused just one issue. A number of the affected towns were also hit again by floods over the recent Christmas/New Year period, compounding the trauma.
The inquiry is considering the experiences of people in dealing with their insurance company and the challenges that insurers faced in responding to a record number of claims.
The inquiry’s Terms of Reference cover the floods in south-east Queensland and northern NSW in February and March; in greater Sydney and the Hunter Valley in July; in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania in October; and in the central west of NSW in November and December.
Committee Chair, Dr Daniel Mulino MP, is familiar with many of the issues people have faced when making insurance claims and dealing with their insurer.
“Maribyrnong is a riverside suburb in my electorate of Fraser, and it was hit hard by the October 2022 flood. More than 500 homes and businesses were flooded and I and my staff are continuing to advocate for residents who are still trying to resolve issues with their insurer,” said Dr Mulino.
The Committee has received numerous submissions – including from consumer advocacy groups that worked closely with policyholders and insurers following the floods; regulators; local councils; and more.
“Many of the submissions articulate the struggles that residents faced, including long delays in damage assessments and repairs, claims being denied because of ‘wear and tear’ exclusions, inadequate cash settlements and poor communication, which all compounded people’s frustrations,” Dr Mulino said. “The Committee is looking forward to hearing all the evidence.”
“Given the increasing frequency of natural disasters, it is critical that the insurance industry remains robust to withstand these challenges, and that policyholders can be confident that they will be properly supported in future claims regardless of their insurer.”
So far, 391 people have also provided feedback about their experience with their insurer through an online survey, which will remain open for the duration of the inquiry. The Committee encourages affected individuals to complete the survey. There is also time for people and organisations to make a submission to the inquiry through this online link.
Australia’s eight largest insurers have also lodged submissions, which have provided insights into how prepared each insurer was to deal with the record number of flood-related claims made in 2022; the measures taken to improve their preparedness for weather-related claims; and the effects of skills, labour and materials shortages on handling claims. The Committee looks forward to questioning the insurers further on these matters.
Public hearing – Major insurers
Date: 9 February 2024
Time: 1.30pm to 4.45pm (AEDT)
Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House
Public hearing – Major insurers, Australian Financial Complaints Authority
Date: 21 February 2024
Time: 10.00am to 3.30pm (AEDT)
Public hearing – the General Insurance Code Governance Committee, Reinsurers
Date: 23 February 2024
Time: 9.15am to 4.30pm (AEDT)
Programs for the hearings are available on the inquiry website.
A live video stream will also be available on the APH website.