Local pensioners crippled by exhorbitant insurance hikes

Peter Chapman
Peter Chapman

WHEN it came time for Goodna couple, Sandra and Russell Pope, to renew their home insurance they were expecting to pay a small year on year increase.

What they received in the mail was much more than a small increment and it has left them shaken.

Their 2022 bill of $1812 had ballooned to $6437, an increase of a whopping 255%.

This was despite the fact their small rustic home hadn’t flooded in almost 50 years, although they admitted they had a few anxious moments during last year’s January deluge.

Sandra said the increase from their insurers had them scrambling to find a better deal elsewhere.

“We tried everyone, but once they saw the Goodna postcode of 4300 on our application many didn’t even want to talk to us,” she said.

TAKING A RISK: Goodna’s Sandra and Russell Pope had no choice but to cancel their flood insurance.
TAKING A RISK: Goodna’s Sandra and Russell Pope had no choice but to cancel their flood insurance.

“Some like NRMA gave us huge quotes, it really said to us they don’t want to have us as a client.

“When we queried one insurer’s exorbitant offer, they told us it was high because roads around us had been closed in the past during flooding and that meant if our house caught on fire local brigades wouldn’t be able to attend. I just couldn’t believe that excuse.”

The search for a reasonable quote proved a frustrating time for the Popes who approached every insurer in the phone book with some not even bothering to give them a quote.

Every dollar is important to Sandra and Russell as they live a frugal life on the pension with Sandra the full-time carer for her husband who suffered a stroke almost 10 years ago.

In the end they opted to take up a quote from Alliance, but unfortunately the new coverage doesn’t include flood insurance.

“We simply couldn’t afford the flood premium, so we just decided to roll the dice and hope the water never reaches us,” Russell said.

Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully was contacted by the Popes over their dilemma, but he could only tell them their story was like many others.

As a victim himself during the 2011 flood, he called for an inquiry some time ago to investigate price gouging by insurance companies including postcode discrimination where insurers slugged householders based on their postcode and not their liability to flooding.

He has now welcomed the fact the Federal government has launched that inquiry into the insurance industry focusing on their handling of claims following the 2022 floods in Queensland and NSW.

“Postcodes were introduced in 1967 in Australia to speed up the processing of mail, not for insurance companies to make blanket decisions about premiums and insurance cover.

“Another householder in Lower William St Goodna was treated like a second-class citizen by a major insurance company with unreasonable demands by them to process a claim following the 2022 flood.”

Cr Tully said the inquiry needed to expose the shoddy and rapacious practices of insurance companies.

“They need to be held accountable for ripping off consumers and fleecing them when claims are made,” Cr Tully said.

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