Storms uncover insurance gaps

Macedon Ranges residents are being urged to better understand their insurance following devastating storm damage across the region. (Matty Be)

By Oliver Lees

Residents in the Macedon Ranges are being urged to pay closer attention to their insurance policies, after storms caused heavy damage to properties across the shire.

Last month, extreme rain and wind caused a large number of trees to fall across roads and onto property across the region.

As the owner of tree removal company Tree Amigos, Taman Treweek has been deployed by insurance companies to assess and remove tree damage following the storms.

Mr Treweek said customers in the Macedon Ranges had been surprised to learn their insurance policies didn’t cover the extent of damage to their property.

“We had one who thought their horse float would be covered under property insurance, they were quite surprised to learn that it wasn’t and they had to fork out,” Mr Treweek said.

“Another property had a tree leaning over a fence line that was covered by insurance, because if it did fall it would cause damage to the structure.

“But then a very similar case in Mt Macedon leaning towards a fence line wasn’t covered. I honestly can’t speak to why it’s not covered. It’s confusing and potentially has something to do with different insurance companies.

“I guess it’s important that people do their due diligence, but also it’s hard to put it all on them. Because if you’ve never experienced an event like that, how are you supposed to know whether you’re covered?”

According to a report released by the Financial Rights Legal Centre earlier this month, urgent reforms are required to address a gap in Australian’s access to adequate insurance support following extreme weather events.

Based on the experiences of 700 clients impacted by severe weather, the report found that customers cited insufficient maintenance cover, poor communication and unsubstantiated denial of claims as common issues they faced when working with insurance providers.

Financial Rights Legal Centre chief executive Karen Cox said insurers should better assist people to understand their policies before and after extreme weather events.

“When catastrophe strikes, people need help on a number of fronts including dealing with their insurer,” Ms Cox said.

“In this fraught and traumatic environment, disputes are inevitable.

“With extreme weather events increasing in both frequency and intensity due to climate change, national leadership is required to address these pressing issues.”

A spokesperson for Macedon Ranges council has said the council expects storm clean-up works to continue for the next six months.

Macedon Ranges council also provides advice for insurance referrals.

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