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ICA to hold second round of Halloween hailstorm community talks

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Another opportunity will be held this month for policyholders in Queensland affected by the Halloween hailstorm to meet with their cover providers as insurers face criticism over a lack of communication and resourcing seven months after the event.

In March, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) hosted a community forum in Brisbane’s Springfield Lakes in acknowledgement of frustration over repair delays.

The damaging hail on October 31 reached up to 14cm in diameter and was the first catastrophe declaration for the 2020/21 natural disaster season. Nearly 42,000 claims have been lodged for an estimated damage bill of $980 million, with 65% of claims finalised.

“One-on-one consultations with insurer claims managers and ICA representatives will help address issues directly with policyholders affected,” an ICA spokeswoman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

The June forum comes as Ipswich Deputy Mayor Nicole Jonic says residents in the worst hit areas are still suffering hardship due to prolonged recovery and reconstruction efforts.

“We would like to be able to get them back in their homes,” she told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “In general, we are seeing a lack of communication and resourcing for Ipswich claims across the board.”

Ms Jonic is also Chair Councillor of the Halloween Hailstorm Special Recovery and Reconstruction Taskforce, which was set up to coordinate key stakeholders. Many residents have not received a scope of works yet, she said, leading to a "perception that insurance companies were lagging behind community expectations at that point”.

“We are now going into eight months on and the closed rate of insurance claims is only at 64%,” Ms Jonic said.

“I want to get the message out that if you need assistance from the insurance ombudsman it will not become part of the claim process. It will proceed independently from your insurance claim.”

ICA says Queensland is experiencing a shortage of critical trades, such as roofers and tilers after multiple hailstorms, as well as the impact of the Federal Government’s Home Builder program, and industry is having to compete with a national surge in new building construction.

“Unfortunately, these issues were intensified by COVID-19 restrictions and Queensland’s border closures earlier this year,” the ICA spokeswoman said, adding roofing tile supply issues are also slowing repairs.

Ms Jonic acknowledged a shortage of materials and experienced tradespeople needed to be addressed.