Flood funding confusion a storm in a C-cup

20th April 2017 11:50 AM
Lismore business owners Julie Gibson and Charmaine Todd attended the breakfast forum to learn more about Category C funding options. REBUILDING: Lismore business owners Julie Gibson and Charmaine Todd attended the breakfast forum to learn more about Category C funding options as they plan to rebuild. Alison Paterson

STAND firm and up to insurance companies and fight for your payouts was a key message to Lismore business owners on Thursday morning.

At 7am, the NSW Department of Industry in conjunction with the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry addressed more than 220 business owners from Lismore on a number of insurance, grant and financial issues including how they can access Category C funding.

Speakers at the 90 minute session included Kevin Hogan MP, Insurance Council of Australia's (ICA) Risk & Disaster Management Advisor, Keir Bielecke, Nortec's David Shire and John Newcombe from the Rural Assistance Authority.

Flood Recovery Co-ordinator Euan Ferguson attended but not not address the crowd.

LCCI president, Deborah Benhayon welcomed everyone and encouraged attendees to ask for assistance and clarification regarding the insurance and funding issues facing their businesses.

Mr Hogan thanked people for filling out their information questionnaires which he said allowed the Category C funding to be processed in record time.

Lismore Chamber of Commerce & Industry president, Deborah Benhayon encouraged people to ask for assistance and clarification regarding the insurance and funding issues facing their businesses.
BUSINESS RECOVERY: Lismore Chamber of Commerce & Industry president, Deborah Benhayon encouraged people to ask for assistance and clarification regarding the insurance and funding issues facing their businesses. Alison Paterson

He then advised business owners were advised to put in claims as soon as possible and not to be off by refusals to honour claims over the phone.

"Ensure you obtain any refusals to pay out insurance caused by flood and storm damage in writing,” he said.

Mr Bielecke reminded the audience the standard definition of flood comprised the covering of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of: any lake, or any river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not altered or modified; or any reservoir, canal, or dam.

However, one business owner said his property in Union St, South Lismore was flooded when storm-water drains overflowed many hours before the levy broke.

"Its very important to tell the hydrologist that we get our drains blocked up every storm,” he said.

"It's important to tell the hydrologists the damage to our shops was caused by the block up of drains as we had water into our shops well before the flood,” he said.

There was applause when one person asked who would decide if the disaster was a flood or a storm event as they were receiving confusing information from different official sources including government and insurance companies.

Business owners Julie Gibson and Charmaine Todd were there to hear how they could get Category C funding to help them get back on their feet.

"We had water up to a 1m in our office and warehouse,” she said.

"Our paper and packaging warehouse lost a lot of stock.”

Ms Todd who runs a women's weight loss firm, was unable to access her property as there was already 1.7m throughout.

"The water was over my head and we were unable to left the heavy equipment,” she said.

When the Northern Star spoke with the the ICA's general manager media and communications, Campbell Fuller said there is no confusion about why some insurers will call the event a storm or a flood.

"One (insurance firm) may decide to pay and another will not, depending on the policy itself,” he said.