COVID restrictions result in strata repairs 'backlog'
CHU-owned Flex Insurance says there is a backlog of claims repairs waiting to be completed at strata properties after more than a year of pandemic lockdowns, echoing similar observations about COVID curbs hindering insurers’ ability to progress building works.
GM Frank Scamarcia says strata service providers such as repairers, restorers and safety inspectors have had limited access to properties during lockdowns introduced by the states and territories.
As a result, activities have been limited to necessary make-safe work and deferment of non-safety repairs.
“This all adds to delays in carrying out repairs to damaged strata properties, which may be the owner's home or investment,” Mr Scamarcia said today. “The lockdowns have meant significant issues in getting owners back on their feet when they have to make a claim.
“Particularly concerning is when it comes to building defect rectifications, which are a major problem in Australia, particularly for new builds.
“Lockdowns have meant limited access to inspect or rectify defects.”
He says the delays have been coupled with managing the NSW and Victorian governments’ COVID-19 rules on site access, authorised workers and services in relation to strata properties.
Flex Insurance says while NSW has lifted many of its restrictions, works that have been put on hold during the lockdown have created a “backlog” that needs to be cleared.
“We have needed to be flexible and constantly adapting to our customers’ needs and government requirements in these taxing times,” Mr Scamarcia said.
Flex Insurance, which used to be called CHUiSaver until it was rebranded two years ago, says it is a market leader in the residential strata space. A spokesman says Flex’s gross written premium has grown by more than 350% since its rebrand and more than 250% in terms of growth in policies.
Peak body Strata Community Association (SCA) National President Chris Duggan says it has been a “very challenging landscape to operate in” for all concerned.
“Within the broader market these delays and disruptions have definitely been happening, and are building on a historical awareness of defects issues and their prevalence, a tightening of insurance markets and lack of access/knowledge about strata,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“A combination of actions will accelerate the repairs process, including increased construction quality, maintenance and COVID restrictions lifting.
“SCA is at the coalface with consumers, and at an industry level is working towards being the single thread that ties these processes together by supporting the reform agenda and giving insurers real-time data,” Mr Duggan said.
In September the Insurance Council of Australia said limited access to interstate trades due to COVID restrictions and border closures is causing significant challenges for insurers and their customers, especially for those who have been affected by natural disasters.
ICA said in the event travel restrictions are imposed, it is important that an exemption is provided at the onset of any restrictions to minimise uncertainty or delays if a disaster strikes. It says the exemption will allow insurers, builders and trades to attend to affected communities.