Rebuilding Townsville - Our Program of Support

By  Andrew Mair

Two months ago, Townsville was devastated by catastrophic flooding. As one of the country’s leading insurers, we’ve been working hard to help impacted communities, brokers and customers get back on their feet during this difficult time.

Read on to find out about the range of initiatives underway to expedite claims processing and support the rebuilding efforts.

Supporting Townsville get back on its feet

Suncorp has responded quickly to the flood crisis by providing customer support teams, assessors and builders on the ground, ready to assist.

After all, getting customers back in their homes and getting their businesses up and running again is our number one priority.

Over the past eight weeks, Suncorp has hosted eleven customer forums in addition to attending two Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) forums, we’ve had representation at meetings with the Mayor, Councillor Jenny Hill, as well as the CEO Roundtable with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

In addition to having extra claims teams on the ground, Suncorp has further demonstrated its commitment to supporting the Townsville community with the establishment of its first Claims Support Centre in Sturt Street, giving customers the option to meet face-to-face as well as providing a centralised hub for our teams and building partners.

For commercial customers, localised hydrological site inspections will be needed to determine the type of damage and the extent. We are offering to fund an appropriately qualified hydrologist (of the customer’s choosing) to undertake this work. We are also providing clean-up services for all commercial customers with a claim, including those without flood cover.

I’m pleased to update you on our progress to date:

  • 99% of all commercial claims assessments completed
  • 99% of all motor vehicle assessments completed
  • More than $97 million in home claims payments made
  • 2560 home claims with repairs in progress
  • Engaged more than 500 local trades, companies and suppliers.

Our home assessments are now complete as we move towards the rebuilding phase. Throughout the recovery process, Suncorp Group, including Vero, is expected to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.

How is Vero helping?

We’re working hard to support you and your customers impacted by the floods by:

  • Authorising brokers to accept claims for Vero Home and Business Packages up to $10,000 – to help businesses recover more quickly.
  • Providing clean-up services for all commercial customers on claim, including those without flood cover.
  • Offering a bulk lodgement of claims – use one email to submit multiple claims
  • Funding hydrology reports. This offer goes beyond our obligation to customers but believe it is important to help customers obtain independent advice.
  • Providing a dedicated claims officer to streamline the claims process and give you a single point of contact.

We’d also like to reassure you we’re continuing to:

  • Review all affected customers – please encourage impacted customers to lodge a claim, regardless of whether they have flood cover.
  • Support local tradespeople and suppliers during the rebuilding process.

Townsville broker visit

Recently, members of Vero distribution, claims and major event management teams met local brokers and customers in Townsville, to discuss claims and share some of their challenges. It was a productive few days and I was pleased to hear the positive comments about our approach and transparency.

We also hosted a Townsville Claims Roundtable, bringing together CEO’s and members of all the major cluster groups, commercial and international brokers and industry bodies, the Council of Queensland Insurance Brokers (CQIB) and National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) - to identify ways to further educate customers on the claims process.

Thank you to everyone involved – we value your feedback which will help us deliver the right outcomes for your customers.

Additional tools to help you

Did you know the Suncorp Learning Campus, our broker education program offers a big range of business growth and client engagement courses? Some of the soft skills around client engagement may help you to successfully navigate difficult conversations with your customers.

Working together to deliver good customer outcomes

In response to the findings of the Royal Commission, we’re committed to improving communication and transparency with all parties. I encourage you to be open and transparent with customers and stakeholders. These are often complex issues, but anything we can do to help better understand the process, will go a long way in re-building trust in our industry.

We want to find ways to pay claims, not deny them

There has been coverage in the media about small business and the role of the insurer and their broker, mainly given the levels of non, or under-insurance in the region. I’d like to be clear, we want to find ways to pay claims, not deny them. Therefore, we are fully funding all hydrology reports, and there is a good chance many businesses will be able to receive some cover under storm.

We are here to help every step of the way

Vero has been supporting Australian businesses for over 180 years, and with our heritage as a Queensland company, we’re all too familiar with the devastating impacts of natural disasters. The damage caused by these floods is significant and the repairs will take some time, but we’ll be with you and your customers every step of the way.