Storm over hail insurance claim
By Alex Easton
GIANT hailstones had punched holes in her windows and in her roof, but Lismore resident Judy Young wasn’t worried; she was insured.
Well, that’s what she thought. Ms Young has now been in a four-month battle with Commonwealth Bank insurance company CommInsure to fix the damage, and to stop it cancelling her policy.
Thanks to the intervention of Lismore MP Thomas George, CommInsure has agreed to fix her roof. But until the company was contacted by The Northern Star yesterday, it was still cancelling Ms Young’s insurance.
That wouldn’t be a problem – Ms Young is happy to change insurers – but her ‘cancelled’ status virtually blacklists her in the insurance industry, potentially causing problems with her mortgage.
Ms Young said she had been paying premiums to CommInsure for three years when the hailstorm hit last October.
But as insurers moved to replace the city’s patchwork of rusted tin roofs damaged by the storm, CommInsure was writing to Ms Young to say she and her 16-year-old son, Mark, would have to live with their new leaks.
In a letter dated December 28, CommInsure told Ms Young the 100-year-old wooden house in Cathcart Street that had once belonged to her parents was in such poor condition the company would cancel her insurance policy.
It’s not the prettiest of buildings and would benefit enormously from a coat of paint, but Ms Young and her son vehemently reject any suggestion the house was in ‘poor’ condition, pointing out the hardwood timbers it was built from were sound, it was regularly treated to repel white ants, and that any essential maintenance needed was always done quickly.
But coming up with about $10,000 worth of paint just to make the house look pretty was well beyond the budget of an unemployed single mum.
Mark Young pointed out that many of their neighbours, whose roofs and homes were in similar or worse condition, had no problem with insurance companies.
“They’d just have a guy come in and go ‘bang-bang’ you’re getting a new roof; ‘bang-bang’ you’re getting new guttering,” he said.
A spokesman for Comm-%Insure said yesterday it had changed its mind.
The spokesman agreed it was unacceptable Ms Young would not be able to insure her home and that, given it was about to get a new roof, the company would continue the insurance.