Cannonvale near Airlie Beach, in the aftermath of cyclone Debbie. Picture: Jono Searle
Cannonvale near Airlie Beach, in the aftermath of cyclone Debbie. Picture: Jono Searle

Youi customers still homeless after Debbie

INSURANCE company Youi has come under fire for mishandling claims on damage to properties caused by Cyclone Debbie last year.

Hundreds of Airlie Beach and Cannonvale home owners claim they are yet to see any repairs to their houses after the category-four cyclone lashed through the area 18 months ago.

Cannonvale home owner Glen Sutton has today told a royal commission he felt his insurance claim was "mishandled from the beginning".

He and his wife have been forced to live out of temporary accommodation since the cyclone destroyed a section of their roof, which has yet to see any repair work.

The delayed repair has affected the couple both financially and emotionally and has caused severe mould and termite infestation to their two-storey home - with a total estimated repair cost of up to $500,000.

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard from two cases involving poor handling of insurance claims by the Queensland-based Youi.

Mr Sutton said his claim was "just the tip of the iceberg", with hundreds of other homes still to be fully repaired.


Damage caused by Cyclone Debbie when it ripped through Airlie Beach. Picture: supplied.
Damage caused by Cyclone Debbie when it ripped through Airlie Beach. Picture: supplied.


"I felt (my claim) was mishandled from the beginning," he told the royal commission.

"It was a shambles.

"I felt bullied and intimidated and made to justify everything.

"A lot of people are in the same situation. I'm only the tip of the iceberg."

Solve My Claim director David Keane, who was hired to deal with Youi on Mr Sutton's behalf, said this case was typical of many others.

"Personally, I have 160-plus claims that are like this," he said.

"Anecdotally, there would be hundreds if not thousands. There are just scores of examples."

Youi Claim Services chief operating officer Jason Storey this afternoon fronted the royal commission into the handling of claims.

Revelations of Youi's use of a problem-riddled builder in repairing damage from a hail storm in 2016 in NSW's Broken Hill also proved a black eye for the insurer at the commission. One of the key problems was dragged-out and slapshod repairs on the roof of home of a pregnant woman, who was concerned about exposure to lead dust.

The commission heard that the repairs to the home of Sacha Murphy started almost four months after she and her partner had signed off on works and paid an excess.

Even more troubling, the builder, whose name was not disclosed, that was assigned to do the repairs had already been on Youi's radar because of problems.

"Builder A have been placed on suspend (suspension) in the region given we have had number of complaints on works authorised which includes delays in repairs, contractors not being paid or just no planning on where the job is at," said an internal Youi message read out at the commission.

Further concerns arose about whether the builder had adequate insurance for works undertaken.

Youi's Mr Storey, who was not there at the time, speculated that the builder had still been allocated to repair Ms Murphy's home because of difficulty sourcing tradespeople in the area at the time.

Ms Murphy later complained the repairs were left unfinished without the roof adequately covered over by a tarpaulin in the time, and her partner having to tie down sheets of metal. Mr Storey agreed the handling of the complaint was not acceptable.

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