Tuesday, January 06, 2009

perils of inner city living

Coming home from holiday there was the inevitable pile of envelopes with the telltale window. Bills, like Christmas, arrive with alarming regularity. My new year’s financial slap in the face is always the annual house and contents insurance renewal.

Reluctantly I opened the bill and the four digit quote confused me. While I couldn’t recall the exact cost of the previous years insurance it was certainly under $1,000. My 2009 quote came in at a whopping 115% increase. With no claims, ever, on the property I was a little mystified but a note on the bottom of the page was even more confounding “Our research indicates that your area can be prone to flooding in some parts”.

Many phone calls later it appears our policy now has flood cover as standard. You can not have home and contents insurance with this company without it and it seems our little inner city home is now included in a flood plan zone according to GIO. The supervisor I spoke to couldn’t believe it either. She lives around the corner and like me can recall no flooding in the neighbourhood. Of course, inner Melbourne is barely above sea level so perhaps this is a pre-emptive strike in anticipation of global warming, maybe that explains it?

After an hour on the computer searching flood zones to no avail I called my local council. The person in the building section was very helpful, got my property details up on their 100 year flood plan and assured me we were not on it. Widening the search to my postcode, it did appear some properties in a parallel street were at risk but only the front of their houses, not the rear or anywhere near my own.

So it appears if there is some dodgy storm water drains anywhere in your postcode, regardless of the status of your own property an insurer can jack up the cost of your policy by over 100%,

The council is mystified.

Melbourne water can’t explain it.

Nice work GIO*.

But sorry, we are not going to fall for it.

This is a dastardly stunt of the highest order one we are not going to take lying down.

Inner Melbourne - full of bushlands and waterways (Google Maps)

But it gets worse. After further investigation into the pricing of our policy, according to GIO, being “near” Edinburgh Gardens (so far away that even a real estate agent wouldn't dare mention it) puts us in a bush fire zone, which also increases our premium. I live in a double brick terrace house with the city at the end of my street but having trees in the neighbourhood and a park kind of nearby we now need a bushfire action plan, though strangely once more such a risk only exists in GIO’s plans not our actual council.

We are taking this further and want to know what the company is basing its information on. From a consumer point of view it appears to be a desperate money grab not substantiated with current data used by official sources.

Is this an "A Current Affair" issue? Anyone else getting some ludicrous rises in their insurance quotes that need further investigation?

* I would like to say the supervisor who looked into this, once we talked her through her initial insistence that nothing could be done, has in fact been very helpful and eventually requoted us. Then again, a minor miracle in itself considering centralised call centres, she is a local resident herself and has reasons to be concerned about her next premium in light of new found “risks”.

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Blogger Pavlov's Cat said...

'Is this an "A Current Affair" issue?'

Yes. I got mine today and it's half that amount, and that's after taking advice from several people (including the RAA themselves) about what constitutes over- and under-insuring. Small house, but still. Flood cover is an optional extra, though I'd have more use for drought cover.

2:17 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Or as a friend commented - shouldn't the flood put out the fires? :)

Who is the RAA?

2:20 pm  
Blogger Ann oDyne said...

so no-go GIO
as another customer bites the dust.

RACV anyone?

all those calls you had to make!

7:50 pm  
Blogger docwitch said...

Floods and bushfires. You do live in a high-risk area. I mean, that's one mean tram ride through your 'burb.

Did GIO also factor in the fact that you live not (that) far from Melbourne zoo, so there is a potential risk of attack by an escaped wild animal?

7:26 pm  
Blogger jo_blue said...

That's outrageous. 115%. I think it's definitely A current affair issue. They can't be allowed to get away with this bullshit. For all the people that call in and complain like you did, there'd be hundreds who would just pay the bill instead.

But, wow, having someone answer your call who is not only in the same country, BUT also lives around the corner - that is a miracle!

3:57 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

The good supervisor has requoted us minus the ridiculous flood excess which accounted for over 100% of the price rise. Though we are still exploring our options. It does go to show that if you are persistent (and right!) sometimes you can get through the bureaucratic brick walls. But our quest wont end here.

But I am a tad worried about the wild animal penalty that will befall us when they wise up to Docwitch's sage advice!

7:56 am  
Blogger Pavlov's Cat said...

Sorry AOF, the RAA is the SA equivalent of the RACV, NRMA etc etc. They have home and contents as well as car insurance, and I get a discount for having everything insured with them.

4:20 pm  
Blogger Melba said...

The bushfire bit made me shake my head. There have been floods with those heavy downpours in the last 2or 3 years, in your area, that's probably what they were meaning, not rising rivers or ocean. The increase is too much, but good if you can negotiate it down.

We don't have home insurance; we should but don't. I've never needed it where we are. But I can say that our insurer for car etc is RACV and they suck as much as anyone else.

12:34 pm  

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