Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Canning Electorate: Insurance
I rise today to speak on two insurance industry issues that have come to light following last year's devastating Kelmscott-Roleystone bushfires that took place in my electorate on 6 February 2011.
The first issue concerns my constituent Mrs Mary Ingram. Mrs Ingram did receive a payout from her insurer, but the same insurance company would not reinsure her property. The Financial Ombudsman Service advised that insurers do have the right to refuse insurance if they deem the risk too high. Mrs Ingram said that the companies that refused her insurance said it was because her property was 'in a bushfire zone'. However, a representative of the Armadale City Council said there were no officially declared bushfire-prone zones in the city at all.
I wrote to the then Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, on 15 November 2011 and asked for confirmation on whether Mrs Ingram was being unfairly treated by the insurance companies that were refusing her insurance. I also spoke to the minister in the chamber when I presented the condolence speech on the bushfires in parliament last year. However, I am still waiting for a response. I suspect it is because he has been promoted and in cabinet now after his assistance in the hatchet job on the member for Griffith, but you would think he would pass on the correspondence to the next minister.
The second issue I wish to raise concerns my constituent Mrs Valerie Kingsley. Mrs Kingsley contacted me to say her insurer had offered a payout amount but it was more than $100,000 less than the value of replacing or repairing the property. Mrs Kingsley has done the right thing and contacted the Financial Ombudsman Service stating why she is not satisfied with her insurer's proposal. Mrs Kingsley is now going through what will be a painstaking process with the financial ombudsman. Mrs Kingsley may see her matter proceed to the panel determination at the FOS, but this is progressing awfully slowly.
It is a year on, and Mrs Kingsley wants to be able to fix her home and move on from last year's devastating fire event. To ensure Mrs Kingsley does not become a victim of the insurance industry as well as the bushfires, I again wrote to then minister, Mr Shorten, to raise this matter with him in January this year. I still await a response from Mr Shorten or the minister that has taken his place.
Under these particularly difficult circumstances I would not want to see any of my constituents adversely affected by the bushfires because their insurance companies have not done the right thing. A year later, these matters are not forgotten. They simply do not go away. I would expect better from both the insurance companies and from the ministers that I have made entree to. I would like to finally take this opportunity to reiterate my praise for everybody who helped during the difficult time of these devastating bushfires both, as I said, during the bushfires—the firies, the SES—and all those who contributed afterwards.