Lismore flood victims urged to fight insurers
By DOMINIC FEAIN firstname.lastname@example.org KYOGLE flood victim John Steuwe, whose insurance claim was recently rejected by insurer AAMI, yesterday received some good news at a legal forum.
Mr Steuwe is challenging a decision by AAMI that his mother’s house was damaged by floodwater – rather than storm or rainwater – and as such is not covered by the existing policy.
Members of the forum advised Mr Steuwe he still had options and to continue a dialogue with AAMI.
Mike Sopinski, manager of corporate affairs at%AAMI, said yesterday that to the best of their knowledge the damage to Mr Steuwe’s house was clearly a result of floodwater, and therefore not covered.
“We are currently looking at ways to provide any possible assistance to Mr Steuwe, and we’d welcome any further information or advice he has received,” he said.
The Legal Information Forum, chaired by Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett, included representatives from the Ombudsman’s office, the Insurance Council of Australia, the Insurance Law Service, Legal Aid and the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre.
Susan Winfield, a solicitor with the Insurance Law Service, strongly advised flood victims struggling with insurance claims to seek legal advice before talking to assessors or submitting claims.
Karin Ness, from the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre, said that even if claims were rejected, flood victims should see it as just the first stage of the process.
“No matter what the insurance company says there are several avenues of recourse,” she said. Graham Warner, from the NSW Ombudsman’s%office, was confident that most insurance disputes would be settled.