SOUTH AUSTRALIAN and Sydney builders answering to Canadian assessor, to be adjudicated by Melbourne claim assessors — that’s the post-Cyclone Debbie insurance service.
And none of these advisors to the major Australian insurers would know a cyclone if it hit them — let alone how to actually fix a cyclone-damaged building.
No cyclones have hit Canada (from where 15 assessors came from according to our Mayor), Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. You wouldn’t expect a North Queensland assessor to be able to judge snow storm damage.
That’s the price of the multi-nationaling of the insurance and finance industry — they use multi-national service suppliers such as assessor suppliers, loss adjusters and building estimators and builders.
One of our buildings was repaired after the previous cyclone (prior to our ownership) and the bodgieness of that repair shows after Debbie — lack of proper overlap of roof and wall sheeting, lack of enough tech screws and tie downs, cheap and ineffective gutter carriers, non-cyclone rated windows and fitment, and electrical work which doesn’t withstand the humidity of the tropics.
That’s why most people want a local builder to do their cyclone damage repairs.
Three politicians who have toured after the cyclone have said this is THE biggest issue being raised by people suffering damage.
But insurers don’t seem to care.
The builders whose ‘call centres’ called us were from Adelaide and Sydney, which they didn’t admit in their typical call centre spiel. After some persistent questioning they admitted that, and they were given our phone number by the insurer. No local builders were offered.
But there is a clause in most insurance contracts that the owner is allowed to ‘make safe’ using a local builder.
Obviously that builder has a start and is the natural, given a reasonable price, to finish the job.
But to get that to happen requires some persistent argument with the insurer and their assessor.
That includes pointing-out that the southern builders do a cheap-jack job and still charge a high price. For that or lesser money, the local builder can do the job properly. The Building Code is quite different in cyclone zones from down south — which not all southern builders and insurers understand.
But in the next cyclone the lessor repair could be catastrophic.
Maybe the politicians, noting the concern, might do something to ensure those who want a local builder, even if accepting a longer wait for the repair, should have that choice.