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'Heart-breaking': flood claims reaching 'difficult point', says Gallagher

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It’s crunch time for many claims from the devastating east coast flood catastrophe, but some claimants' lack of cover will leave them exposed, broker Gallagher says.

The floods during February and March, which resulted in about 200,000 claims worth $3.4 billion, are Australia’s worst on record.

Gallagher Head of Claims Adam Squire told that the initial response from insurers has been “outstanding”.

“As a general comment, we are so much more mature than 20 years ago,” he said. “[The insurers] have run hard at this.”

But he says we are now “at a difficult point” where indemnity decisions are being made.

“Unfortunately, where it’s flood and flood cover wasn’t taken, it is going to present some awful situations for policyholders.

“Every day we’re seeing these start to happen. It breaks our heart, because we’re seeing businesses and people that have elected not to take the cover, or else couldn’t take the cover. It’s breaking our heart where we are seeing genuinely that cover isn’t there.”

Mr Squire says for claims that are accepted, a lack of building supplies and workers means “delays are going to be real”.

“Some of the usual solutions that we may have, have gone out the window because there's a lack of people available.

“Having very low unemployment is fantastic in many ways, but in other ways, for an event like this, it creates all sorts of issues, because resources you may have traditionally used are not there.”

Mr Squire says a lot of businesses knew that they weren’t covered for flood, but there is still some confusion in the community.

He also says governments doing more to mitigate flood events in advance is “a no-brainer”.

“We’re spending a fortune after the event, whether it be insurance, or state authorities, and it doesn't make sense to me. It must be better to mitigate up front to stop all this stress, or to vastly reduce it.”