Flooded business owner fights for insurance payout

NEARLY six months on from destructive flood damage, a Townsville business owner is yet to see a cent from his insurance company.

New Park Suit Hire and Menswear owner Ron McGinty said trying to rebuild his business has been so stressful his wife suffered a "mini stroke".

"She ended up there in hospital, the sheer stress of it all and managing money because it's all our money," he said.

Apart from the $25,000 government flood grant, Mr McGinty has self-funded the significant repair work needed to get his shop reopened, costing him a huge amount in personal savings.

"We're hoping our claim will be approved and we can refurbish the business so we don't have to borrow masses of money - my wife and I are 60 and we don't want to have to do that," he said.

Mr McGinty said his Charters Towers Rd shop started to go under water in the hours prior to the Ross River Dam gates opening but it's the difference between flood damage versus storm water that has him locked in a dispute with QBE Insurance.


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"They've neglected their responsibility to us, it wasn't an 'itsy bitsy' policy, we didn't cut back and we were properly insured but it was only for storm water," he said.

"We were already swamped eight hours before (the flood gates opened), the shop was over so we're saying paying up and shut up you haven't got a leg to stand on.

"We watched the water come in, we even filmed it and it was all clear water.

"But they've just refused our claim and said the only reason the water was clear was because it filtered by the sandbags - what a load of rubbish."

Solve my Claims owner David Keane has been advocating on behalf of policyholders in Townsville and said he had little faith in the insurance process.

"I don't have any faith some of these insurance companies have any intention of paying these claims," he said.

"There's a massive power imbalance in the whole process and everyone who's acting for the insurance company are clearly working for the insurance company."

Mr Keane said he had witnessed many claims being rejected on the basis of flood damage versus storm water and it was important to know the legality of the policy.

"In principal if water comes from the sewerage or storm drains up to 5cm then the policy has to be paid, even if there was partial flood damage they have to indemnify you for what that initial storm damage would be," he said.

Mr Keane predicted it would be at least two years before the bulk of claims had been processed from the floods.

QBE Insurance were contacted but did not respond by deadline.