RACQ Insurance 'laughs' at Helidon flood victim in email

bill jolly emails

The email trail of Bill Jolly's disputes with insurer RACQ.

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IT is the email that highlights the very worst of the attitude of insurance companies to Queensland's flood victims.

When Helidon homeowner Bill Jolly sent a cordial email to RACQ Insurance that included before-and-after photographs of his devastated property, this is what he received:

"Ha ha, look at that Mr Jolly and jolly still. Whew got him off our back for a while."

The emailed message, from an insurance policy officer, was sent, apparently in error, on Wednesday.

The RACQ said: "We are aware of the issue."

The heartless email adds to growing public pressure on insurance companies.

 The Courier-Mail visited Mr Jolly's home yesterday where it remains in its dilapidated state, open to the elements and mud-stained.

The sprawling colonial property set on a site for birdwatchers overlooks and sits at least 6m above the creek when it is in its normal peaceful state.

But when Lockyer Creek surged through it fully inundated the home with enough force to smash windows.

Mr Jolly is now living in alternative accommodation.

The RACQ told The Courier-Mail the issue had been dealt with. "We have apologised to the customer involved and dealt with the issue he raised immediately and directly with him. He has told us he is happy with the outcome.

"This behaviour does not reflect the high standards RACQ Insurance places on its customer relations."

flood home
Helidon resident Bill Jolly's flood affected house on the banks of the Lockyer Creek.
Mr Jolly confirmed he had received the email but declined to comment further.

Insurers are already under fire this week for their failure to face customers. Prime Minister Julia Gillard berated them after failing to turn up at an insurance forum in Ipswich this week despite pressure from Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten. At the meeting many victims broke down.

The industry has paid out about $700 million but at least $2.1 billion-worth of claims from the floods and Cyclone Yasi remain unpaid.

The Courier-Mail revealed yesterday how the directors of insurance brands Real, AAMI, Allianz, NRMA, CGU, QBE and RACQ enjoy six or seven-figure salaries and lavish lifestyles, while many of their customers languish in caravans or in the gutted shells of their homes waiting for decisions.

Out of 43 directors, 17 own multimillion-dollar homes overlooking Sydney Harbour and only one lives in a suburb affected by January's flooding.

Premier Anna Bligh told The Courier-Mail yesterday: "When there's so many people that I meet still have no answers from their insurance companies, I think they must be feeling pretty angry when they see some of these salaries.

"People are entitled to answers," Ms Bligh said. RACQ, which offers flood cover as an optional extra, has blamed Wivenhoe Dam for the flooding and has denied hundred of claims in recent weeks.

"The majority of properties that reported damage in Brisbane were inundated as a result of the release of water from Wivenhoe Dam that followed the rainfall in the Brisbane River catchment that commenced on 9 January 2011," the company's letter reads. "This does not meet the requirements of 'Flash flood or stormwater run-off' as defined in RACQ's standard policy. Claims for loss or damage in Brisbane will, therefore, generally not be covered."

RACQ is one of two insurers the other is Suncorp to be granted leave to appear at the royal commission into the floods, which will examine the response of private insurers.

CONSUMER WATCH COMMENT: RACQ Insurance has acted in a disgusting matter over this claim by Mr William Jolly whose house on the banks of Lockyer Creek at Helidon was devastated in the flood of January 2011. The RACQ Insurance officer involved in making this sarcastic comment Lynette Cain should be sacked for such a thoughtless, hurtful and unprofessional comment. No amount of explanations or excuses can justify her actions.