RISING INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Tyson and Cody Roles outside their grandmother Eunice Barnes home in Hanbury Street.
RISING INSURANCE PREMIUMS: Tyson and Cody Roles outside their grandmother Eunice Barnes home in Hanbury Street. Mike Knott BUN260319HAN2

War widow's home insurance jumps up $7000 in a year

A 94-YEAR-OLD North Bundaberg woman's house insurance has sky-rocketed to $11,000pa with an increase of $7000 in the last 12 months, her concerned grandson says.

War widow Eunice Barnes has lived in the Hanbury St house her late husband built since the '60s.

The property is now maintained by her grandson Tyson Roles and his three brothers as their grandmother has dementia. However, the house remains in her name.

Three days ago the family was shocked when they opened the latest bill from their insurer, they said was Comminsure, which said the grandmother had one month to pay the full $11,000 or the house would no longer be insured.

Mr Roles said he understood the home had been flooded twice, but said it was unaffordable to increase the amount by $7000 overnight.

"What do they expect?" he questioned.

"We're not going to let Nan go out 'hooking' to get the money."

The tight-knit family spoke to Mrs Barnes before she became ill and it was her wish to keep the home full of memories in the family, no matter what.

Mr Roles said they would not leave the home uninsured and would think about relocating it instead of paying such a high price.

"$4000 is still a hit, but it's doable with the family - we would work it out as we understand it's a flood prone area," he said.

"Would we like to pay less - of course, but we know the flood water came halfway-up to the windows.

"We are not mad with the insurance company - I completely understand we are in a high-risk area and we should pay a little more.

"But there needs to be a level of understanding about a person who is 94 and lived here all her life and had insurance all her life."

Mr Roles said it seemed a little unreasonable for the cost to jump so extravagantly.

"It seems a little unreasonable to go from $4000 to $11,000, if it was $4500 we would understand," he said.

"The jump implies to us that they don't want our business.

"It's really just un-Australian and we are not coming from a place of malice, we just want to look after Nan."

 

LONG TIME RESIDENTS: Ron and Audrey Christie indicate the height of the water during the 2013 floods in Hanbury Street North Bundaberg.
LONG TIME RESIDENTS: Ron and Audrey Christie indicate the height of the water during the 2013 floods in Hanbury Street North Bundaberg. Mike Knott BUN260319HAN4

He took to social media to ask for advice and the post was bombarded with people saying they had to change insurers to find a better deal.

"Nan has done a lot for our family and we will do all we can to respect her wishes to keep the home," Mr Roles said.

"We just need to shop around now."

Neighbouring property owners Ron and Audrey Christie said they'd given up on insuring their home because of the rising premiums.

"I'm 69 years old and I bought the house when I was 16," Mr Christie said.

"We've been through floods and now we just don't insure our home because it's too high."

The NewsMail contacted CommInsure for comment but it was not able to provide one before deadline.

Insurance Council of Australia says Government needs to reduce flood risk in order to reduce flood insurance

THE Insurance Council of Australia has laid the blame for the rising cost of home insurance at the feet of the government amid revelations applications for flood coverage have jumped from 3 per cent in 2006-07 to 94 per cent now including some form of flood coverage.

 

Insurance Council Australia general manager communications Campbell Fuller.
Insurance Council Australia general manager communications Campbell Fuller. Contributed

ICA general manager Campbell Fuller said insurance companies in Queensland were losing money "hand over fist".

He said for every dollar collected in the state, companies were paying $1.40 on claims.

Mr Fuller said while the Hinkler electorate didn't make the top 20 list for flood prone areas, Flynn, where many North Bundaberg homes sit, came in fifth.

The level of flood exposure to homes and businesses remains a significant challenge for insurance companies, which must charge premiums in accordance with the risk.

Reducing insurance premiums in flood-affected areas can only be achieved by either making less-risky areas pay higher premiums than they should, or by addressing the root cause of the flood exposure, according to ICA.

ICA general manager of risk and disaster planning Karl Sullivan said it was important wake-up call for all levels of government to focus on mitigation efforts.

"Flood risk is one key reason why many in these electorates may pay high insurance premiums," he said.

"With a federal election due in May, it's time voters asked their local MPs and other candidates one simple yet essential question: 'what are you planning to do to lower our flood risk?'"



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