Townsville flood victims fear ‘premium backlash’

The Mayor of Townsville says businesses and residents in the city fear premiums will rocket in the wake of last month’s devastating floods. The north Queensland city was pelted by a year’s rain in just a few days, leading to more than 22,000 insurance claims totalling $893 million so far. Mayor Jenny Hill told today the clean-up is progressing well but some concerns remain over flood cover and the future impact on premiums. “There are still people with problems relating to what is flood and what is storm [damage],” she said. “A lot of people had storm water coming up before the river broke its banks.” As has reported previously, significant numbers of Townsville businesses did not have flood cover in place. “I have got people who have already had claims denied and people don’t understand [the difference between flood and storm],” Cr Hill said. She says there are particular issues in the body corporate sector, with one group lining up a possible class action. But her major concern relates to the impact of the floods on future insurance premiums, with increasing numbers of people potentially set to be priced out of insurance. “No doubt we will bear the full brunt of this event over the next few years,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who are not covered. Some people had inadequate insurance, some were not covered at all.” Cr Hill says she will consider making a submission to the ongoing Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into insurance affordability. A second roundtable meeting between politicians and the insurance industry to review progress in Townsville’s recovery is scheduled to take place on Friday. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) will also hold the second of its community forums for claimants on March 25. An ICA spokeswoman told it is in regular contact with Townsville Council and Cr Hill. “She has not raised any significant issues with ICA,” the spokeswoman said. “Today ICA was made aware of the roundtable meeting scheduled for this Friday, March 15. The council will be represented at the meeting.” 

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