Levee set to slash premiums but not all happy

Insurers are set to start slashing premiums in flood-prone Roma as early as next year but a local broker says insurance problems will remain.

Work has begun on a $15 million levee that will protect more than 420 flood-prone homes, with a mooted extension set to cover more homes and an industrial estate.

Since 2010 Roma has flooded three times, with 2012 being recorded as its worst year to date.

Roma-based Rural Insurance Services Director Grant Lorenz says there has been a mixed response from the community about the Queensland Government-funded mitigation measures.

“It’s very hard to levee a town that’s on two sides of a creek,” he says.

“You are going to have people that are disadvantaged and the biggest concern of those people is that the resale value of their land is gone. The ones that will be protected though are happy and confident with the way things have taken place.”

Lorenz – who has lived in the town for 39 years and worked in insurance for eight of them – opened the doors of his brokerage last year to Suncorp personnel as they tended to claims in the flood-ravaged town. However, he says despite their best attempts, insurers must make a bigger effort to regain the trust of the community.

“The people of Roma are resilient, they’ll get through just about anything but they need to be reassured that they’re not on their own. As a broker in a regional town you have to do your job properly because after you leave the office you need to be able to walk down the street and look the person walking towards you in the eye,” Lorenz says.

The events of the past three years has made Roma locals much more aware of what their policies cover and what they’re paying for, which has in turn allowed brokers to shift many Home and Contents discussions away from price.

“The residents have become a lot more aware of what they’re asking for in their insurance. Some people are still trying to sort their lives out from 2010 when they didn’t have the right cover in place. So as brokers it’s our responsibility to ensure we’re providing accurate advice and equipping them with the information they need to make the right decision,” Lorenz says.

Suncorp personal insurance CEO Mark Milliner says he expects premiums for Roma residents to fall by up to 80 per cent once the levee is built.

The levee is one of many mitigation building projects expected to commence later this year in flood-affected areas such as Cairns, Mackay, Gympie, Bundaberg, St George, Laidley and Rockhampton. The works have been sparked by the approval of a $50 million mitigation plan by the Newman Government.