ADVICE FOR THOSE MAKING INSURANCE CLAIMS FOR FLOOD
The following was sent to me and was a Facebook post
Solve My Claim
QLD/NSW FLOODS – URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT:
We have already heard from many people whose policies did not cover them for ‘flood’. For those who have been told they are not covered, and even for those of you who are covered but care for your neighbours and other people who aren’t, I need to share some critically important information with you, and I can’t overstate how important this will be!
- You will find that, if your policy doesn’t cover flood, the insurer will likely send a hydrologist to your property in the coming days or weeks, to look at the flood event specifically with respect to your property to try to ascertain whether your property was inundated by ‘floodwater’, ‘stormwater’ or any other source of water. Any evidence you can show them during this visit to help your cause will be so important in charting the trajectory of your claim from that point onwards. More on that shortly.
- One important thing to remember is that any time ANYONE comes to your property, you need the name and qualification of that specific person. You want to be able to ascertain down the track whether the person who writes the report (and usually puts their qualification on that report) is the same person who actually attended your property, or whether one person attended and a different person wrote the report. There is nothing necessarily wrong with a different person writing and putting their name to a report, but the report at least should outline the identity of the person who attended the site, and not just the author of the report. Or else it is merely a ‘desk-top‘ report and this should be fully acknowledged. A desk-top report can still be valid, but is usually not accepted as being as valuable as a first-hand report from a fully qualified person who actually attended the property.
- Another thing to remember is that you are entitled to obtain your own expert reports and evidence too. Many people shy away from this because they don’t want to pay the cost of an independent report and would rather rely on reports the insurer arranges, which is a mistake in my opinion. It never ceases to amaze me how often a report from an independent expert differs markedly from a report written by someone appointed by, and paid by, the insurance company. I am not necessarily suggesting that the insurer’s reports do not contain genuinely-held views or conclusions, or that they are invalid – I am merely remarking about how often in my experience reports from someone with no affiliation with the insurer provide different conclusions and recommendations from reports arranged by insurers. It is ALWAYS worthwhile getting a second opinion from someone who is completely independent.
- Just as importantly, and this is where you can ALL potentially help those around you with their claims, is the fact that you likely will have between you a treasure trove of photographic and video evidence already, taken throughout the event itself. I encourage EVERYONE who is in any of the flood-affected areas to check out your photos and video evidence of specific water flows and storm-water activity from before the time that the rivers or watercourses actually overflowed. You may not have evidence of stormwater at your property, but your next-door neighbour may have the evidence that will help you show the insurer and the hydrologist what really happened at the property. The more first-hand evidence you can provide, the less likely it is that the hydrologist’s report will have to resort to opinion only in drawing their conclusions. Also ask around to see any CCTV footage from local businesses etc. It is amazing how much is captured on cameras of some type nowadays.
- This is vitally important – the type of evidence that will be very valuable will be photos or videos (ideally time and date stamped) showing clear water inside your property or in the immediate vicinity. Clear water doesn’t automatically mean that it was stormwater rather than flood, but in previous floods, it has been widely accepted that floodwaters tend to be silt or mud-filled, and not clear water, due to all of the silt, dirt and other contaminants around. Clear water is often a sign that this is stormwater that may then be further exacerbated by floodwaters in the following hours or days as the rivers or other watercourses overflowed. If your property had stormwater inundation first (maybe to 5cm or so, for example), and then later floodwaters increased the damage to 50cm in height for instance, you may be able to claim for the initial inundation even if your policy doesn’t cover flood, which would still require considerable amount of rectification works. We were able to use evidence of this nature in the Townsville flood of 2019 to overturn several million dollars’ worth of claims that had already been denied by insurers.
- Given the previous point, if you have ANY evidence showing stormwater inundation in the streets, in your homes, overflowing stormwater systems, water bubbling up through toilets or floor-waste pipes, this evidence may potentially help someone else with their claim. I urge you all to share your photos and videos, or even just to put the messages out on social media if you have that type of evidence and would be happy to share your evidence with others. Even if your claim is accepted for flood, your neighbour or someone down the street might be fighting for their claim to be accepted, and your evidence could literally change the outcome of their claim. So even if your claim has been accepted, please let others know if you have evidence that may help them too. In particular, if you can show the time and date of the photos or videos and they are clearly before the rivers broke their banks or floodwaters reached your property, this evidence could change someone’s life, if it is sufficient to demonstrate that their property also would have been affected by that stormwater prior to the flood event.
- If you have this type of evidence, but don’t know anyone first-hand who may need it, feel free to advise in response to this post, along with details of where the evidence is taken from. You don’t necessarily need to give a specific address for now (for privacy reasons), but maybe just street and town, so others can see where there is available evidence that may possibly help them. Many commercial and strata policies don’t cover flood, and I am advised that some residential policies in areas such as Lismore were so expensive for flood cover, that many people simply could not afford this level of cover. Who knows, your photos or videos, taken in the early stages of this event, just might be critically important in someone’s claim being accepted or partially accepted.
- To finish, I should make clear that many properties will likely end up being deemed to be flood-damaged only, and not damaged by stormwater in the first instance. Even having this type of evidence available may not necessarily get your denied claim overturned. But the stronger the evidence you can show, to demonstrate that stormwater or other factors damaged your home aside from the actual ‘flood damage’, the more chance you will have of being partially or fully covered for this event, and it is sooooo worthwhile to go to the effort of trying to obtain evidence of this nature if you can. And who knows, if you have sufficient evidence by the time the hydrologist attends the property, you might even receive a favourable report that recommends partial or full acceptance of your claim in the first instance, and you won’t have to fight a denied claim at all!
We are already receiving phone calls and messages from people from right through the flood-affected regions of Qld and NSW, and we are committed to helping as many people as we can in the coming weeks and months.
Don’t forget to join our “FLOOD – Insurance Tips/Advice” group ( www.facebook.com/groups/885218065554915 ) on Facebook for more articles and posts, outlining important information as you continue to navigate through this event. And “like” our page – www.facebook.com/solvemyclaim for information and advice during all major catastrophe events in the future. And as always, share this post far and wide, so all have a chance to read it.