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‘Name and shame’ insurers for dogging flood-affected victims

Jan 24, 2024

NORTH Queenslanders impacted by flooding linked to Tropical Cyclone Jasper will find some additional relief in amended government assistance measures after Katter’s Australian Party MPs Bob Katter and Shane Knuth voiced concerns over the lack of support available.  

The State and Federal Governments have now made available $50,000 for uninsured or underinsured households to claim assistance for structural repairs as well as replace flooring and white goods, pending income eligibility tests.   

Further, the $75,000 available to primary producers, has now been expanded to cover crop damage and losses (previously only farm infrastructure) which Mr Katter said was a step in the right direction, but needed to increase to at least $100,000.   

The sudden expansion in assistance comes following weeks of lobbying from the KAP MPs who visited and spoke with a large number of householders, business owners and primary producers throughout the Cassowary Coast, Tablelands and Mareeba Shire regions.   

Mr Katter said from the various fruit and vegetable farmers to cattle graziers who had lost their primary products – government assistance towards these losses “should have always been a no brainer.”  

“The state of insurance in North Queensland is absolutely farcical at the moment,” Mr Katter said.   

“Every flood-affected street Shane Knuth and I visited, I would estimate each house had at least $20,000 worth of white goods dumped outside, ready for the garbage truck. And that doesn’t include car losses.   

“And of those houses, at least half, if not more either had no insurance or were underinsured. And then those who had insurance, couldn’t make a claim because of some minor technicality in the policy. One resident in a high-set house lost everything downstairs, the fridge, the washing machine was floating down the driveway, ‘but the water never went through the front door upstairs,’ so she misses out.  

“I mean seriously. What is the point of government if it can see the basic benefits of insurance be afforded to its people.”   

Mr Katter said while a failure by government departments including government body ASIC had led to a situation where the legislated reinsurance pool was not effective, he would be making further representations blasting the conduct of insurance companies which were failing to provide compensation due to technicalities.   

He said he would be calling on the Federal Minister for Financial Services and Assistant Treasurer to hold a round-table meeting with insurers for an explanation on why premiums were not reducing in North Queensland following the introduction of the pool.   

“I firmly suggest this request take the form of a show cause notice. As being that after the government provided a reinsurance pool for serious natural disasters of a serious nature, only Sure” Insurance and (to some degree) Allianz were the only two insurance companies to provide affordable insurance offers.  

“Minister, we request that you establish this meeting and ask the tough questions. If not ‘blame and shame’ may be the pathway forward instead of recriminations and rejuvenations.”