Consumer Disgrace: Insurers snub meeting with flood victims in Ipswich as Minister labels QBE, CGU, RACQ, Allianz, NRMA and CHU as "scallywags"
People still waiting for insurance companies to pay out.
INSURANCE companies are thumbing their noses at Assistant Federal Treasurer Bill Shorten after refusing his request they front frustrated flood victims today in Ipswich.
Meanwhile, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann have accused the Insurance Council of Australia of cooking up statistics to make it look like insurers are taking care of flood victims.
"I want accountability, transparency and expedition but, so far, all I've seen is procrastination and frustration," Mr Neumann said.
Hundreds of Ipswich families are still living in caravans, motels and other people's homes as they wait for insurers to process their claims.
The Courier-Mail reported on Saturday that in flood-hit Helen Street in North Booval, only four out of the street's 47 houses are occupied.
A spokesman for Mr Shorten said: "The Government is disappointed that no insurers will be attending the meeting in Ipswich to talk to their policyholders."
The minister last month labelled QBE, CGU, RACQ, Allianz, NRMA and CHU as "scallywags" and insisted they face customers to explain their decisions. But attempts to negotiate "ground rules" for the meeting failed.
Mr Shorten has threatened increased regulation of the industry if insurers failed to do the right thing for consumers. "They know what we can do," he told The Courier-Mail.
At an earlier forum in February, dozens of flood victims protested, holding signs attacking insurers. It appears only the Insurance Council will be fronting the meeting today.
"They are hiding in their ivory towers," Cr Pisasale said. "This is not a game, all we want is for them to be honest. The bomb has already gone off. The fuse is not going to go out."
The Insurance Council last week said just 3 per cent of residential property claims had been "the subject of a denial" in Queensland for flood and Cyclone Yasi claims.
But Cr Pisasale said the ICA wouldn't say what per cent of claims had been approved, or were still being processed.
"They want to play with statistics. How many people have not been processed?"
The ICA refused last week to provide a current payout figure for Queensland flood claims, choosing instead to tout a total cyclone/flood figure of $625 million, fewer than 20 per cent of what has been claimed.
Mr Neumann said ICA statistics were painting a positive picture that was contrary to what he was seeing.
"What I am seeing is every conceivable excuse being given for not paying while the majority of . . . people are living in tents, caravans, motels or in other people's places," he said.
Mr Shorten is expected to make an announcement today on progress towards a standard definition of flood for insurers.
Insurance companies have different definitions of flood, which has led to confusion among consumers. The industry tried to come up with a single definition in 2008 but it was knocked back by consumer groups, who said it would hinder competition.
Mr Shorten's spokesman said there had been "some movement" towards a single definition.
QBE said: "The public forum approach does not allow us to individually work with our policyholders and assist them through the claims process or the appeal process. We believe our one-to-one individual approach will produce better outcomes for those policyholders."
NRMA said it didn't believe "a mass community meeting is going to help us further explain our decision" on claims to policyholders.
The other companies invited to the meeting did not respond.
The ICA, which has not responded to earlier requests for clarification of its statistics, did not return calls
The Ipswich meeting will be at Swifts Bowls Club in Booval at 1pm. Mr Neumann is also holding a public meeting for flood victims in Fernvale on Wednesday.