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Riverina homeowners denied insurance payments in the wake of the Mansfield earthquake | Manning River Times

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Homeowners say they were shocked and frustrated after being repeatedly denied insurance payments for the damages they claimed their homes suffered in the major earthquake last year. The 5.9-magnitude earthquake was recorded south of Mansfield on September 22, with tremors being felt in large parts of Victoria and New South Wales. Anne Barry was lying in bed at her home in Henty in Riverina, New South Wales, when the earthquake struck and said she would never forget the minutes that followed. “I heard something falling in the inner room and when I walked in there was perfume and aftershave and everything that was on the windowsill falling to the floor,” she said. “Things were falling in my kitchen too, and you could hear our house twisting basically because there was cracking and popping like you couldn’t believe it.” Ms Barry said her home, which was built in the 1950s, has suffered extensive damage from vibration, including broken tiles, cracked plaster, torn cabinet doors and split ceiling beams. Within an hour, I called Elders Insurance Wagga to inform them of the situation and an inspector came out to assess the damage later that week. Ms. Barry believes the matter has been resolved and the process of repair is underway, even weeks later when she was informed that her claim had been denied. “When the engineer’s report came and said my claim had been rejected, I just cried,” she said. “They agreed to send another engineer and I was pretty sure it would be fixed but that was also refused and I couldn’t believe it.” Ms Barry claims that the insurance company told her that her home was so far from the epicenter that it caused the damage. The 62-year-old has questioned the science behind this supposed claim and is now considering referring the matter to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. Elders Insurance Wagga said they were unable to respond to The Daily Advertiser’s questions. In other news: Wagga Wagga resident Kim Williams in the NSW Riverina began renting out her Ashmont property when the earthquake struck. The new tenants advised their real estate agent that the house had been damaged during the tremors, and then photos of Mrs. Williams were sent “several large cracks” along the inner wall. The cracks did not appear in photos taken by the estate agent a few weeks before the earthquake, and Williams said she had no doubts that her claim with Woolworths Insurance would be successful. “It took them three months to respond and then they stopped him again and said it was just a normal move,” she said. “I just assumed it would definitely be covered and I was shocked that it was turned down because of the pictures and the tenant would gain nothing from saying the house was damaged.” Ms Williams plans to fight the decision but said she was not sure because it appeared to be a problem at the Riverina level. “It looks like everyone has been stabbed and I haven’t heard from anyone whose claim has been approved and that’s really frustrating,” she said. The Daily Advertiser has contacted Woolworths Insurance for comment. A Suncorp spokeswoman said drop rates can be quite high in the aftermath of earthquakes, as people search their homes and find pre-existing damage and assume it was from the earthquake.

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Homeowners say they were shocked and frustrated after being repeatedly denied insurance payments for the damages they claimed their homes suffered in the major earthquake last year.

The 5.9-magnitude earthquake was recorded south of Mansfield on September 22, with tremors being felt in large parts of Victoria and New South Wales.

Anne Barry was lying in bed at her home in Henty in Riverina, New South Wales, when the earthquake struck and said she would never forget the minutes that followed.

“I heard something falling in the inner room and when I walked in there was perfume and aftershave and everything that was on the windowsill falling to the floor,” she said.

“Things were falling in my kitchen too, and you could hear our house twisting basically because there was cracking and popping like you couldn’t believe it.”

Ms Barry said her home, which was built in the 1950s, has suffered extensive damage from vibration, including broken tiles, cracked plaster, torn cabinet doors and split ceiling beams.

Shattered: Ann Barry says the aging and basic design of her Henty home may have been the reason it was so badly damaged in the earthquake. Photo: Les Smith

Within an hour, I called Elders Insurance Wagga to inform them of the situation and an inspector came out to assess the damage later that week.

Ms. Barry believes the matter has been resolved and the process of repair is underway, even weeks later when she was informed that her claim had been denied.

“When the engineer’s report came and said my claim had been rejected, I just cried,” she said.

“They agreed to send another engineer and I was pretty sure it would be fixed but that was also refused and I couldn’t believe it.”

Ms Barry claims that the insurance company told her that her home was so far from the epicenter that it caused the damage.

The 62-year-old has questioned the science behind this supposed claim and is now considering referring the matter to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

Elders Insurance Wagga said they were unable to respond to The Daily Advertiser’s questions.

Wagga Wagga resident Kim Williams of Riverina, New South Wales, began renting out her Ashmont property when the earthquake struck.

The new tenants advised their real estate agent that the house had been damaged during the tremors, and then photos of Mrs. Williams were sent “several large cracks” along the inner wall.

The cracks did not appear in photos taken by the estate agent a few weeks before the earthquake, and Williams said she had no doubts that her claim with Woolworths Insurance would be successful.

“It took them three months to respond and then they stopped him again and said it was just a normal move,” she said.

“I just assumed it would definitely be covered and I was shocked that it was turned down because of the pictures and the tenant would gain nothing from saying the house was damaged.”

Ms Williams plans to fight the decision but said she was not sure because it appeared to be a problem at the Riverina level.

“It looks like everyone has been stabbed and I haven’t heard from anyone whose claim has been approved and that’s really frustrating,” she said.

The Daily Advertiser has contacted Woolworths Insurance for comment.

A Suncorp spokeswoman said drop rates can be quite high in the aftermath of earthquakes, as people search their homes and find pre-existing damage and assume it was from the earthquake.

Sources

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2/ https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/7590640/homeowners-frustrated-as-insurers-refuse-quake-claims/%3Fcs%3D9397

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