We understand that for people experiencing lengthy delays for property repairs and lodging/processing insurance claims, 2022 has been an incredibly frustrating year.
A series of obstacles have constrained insurers and tradespeople as they battle hundreds of thousands of claims stemming from a string of some of the worst catastrophes ever experienced in Australia.
The most impactful event being the floods that devastated South-East Queensland and NSW in February and March 2022, deemed the costliest flood in Australia and the fifth costliest disaster after the Eastern Sydney Hailstorm in 1999.
Once a claim is lodged with an Insurer, on larger and/or more complex claims a Loss Adjuster is appointed and arranges a time with the site contact to attend a site inspection. Once this occurs, a report is written and submitted to the Insurer for consideration on how the policy will respond within the policy wording.
This process can often be seen on the surface as a lack of progress, and along with the other obstacles delaying insurance claims and repairs, it can often seem like nothing is being done.
While delays can be frustrating and at times feel never-ending, it’s important for owners to realise this current situation is a state-wide issue and that everyone is doing their best under the current circumstances to ensure a smooth recovery process for all involved.
Reasons for Delays
There are a variety of reasons why there are major delays on insurance claims and repairs in QLD, but the primary cause has been catastrophic weather events and an unprecedented amount of rain that has significantly increases the volume of Insurance claim lodgements.
About 1.5m of rain has fallen on Brisbane in 2022 and it’s already made for the highest annual total in 12 years.
The record-breaking rain has racked up more than $2 billion in damages for Queenslanders stung by construction delays, tens of thousands of potholes and more than 100,000 insurance claims.
The Insurance Council of Australia reported the loss comprised of 107,562 claims from Queensland.
Master Builders Queensland has reported that 50,000 of those include buildings require repair.
These claims are on top of 38,000 new homes expected to be built this year, an almost 20 per cent rise on pre-pandemic numbers.
“The recent rain events in Queensland have further increased demand for trades and materials on top of the already high demand and blown out existing construction schedules, meaning each project is taking longer to complete,” a statement from Master Builders Queensland said.
Lack of Tradies
The rain has created a perfect storm for tradies and builders, with most unable to work during the rain, facing both project cost and time blowouts.
With demand so high there are massive issues with prolonged timeframes for works to commence and with the scarcity of tradies many are estimating it will take until next year to get things back on track.
Some tradespersons have communicated that they are no longer quoting for jobs for the foreseeable future.
Sourcing qualified roofers has been one of the main obstacles with many indicating they cannot provide a quote for at least 4-6 weeks and with the backlog of jobs and new clients won’t actually be able to do the job until next year.
Adding to the challenges, many tradies are still playing catch-up on older jobs during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, not to mention the difficulties in getting building materials and the continuous issues faced with COVID.
Exacerbating the issue is the growing crisis in the construction sector, with half a dozen building companies forced to fold in the last few months. Queensland has been hit particularly hard.
Supply chain issues as well as rising prices to building materials has resulted in ballooning costs and long delay with flow-on effects to the whole ecosystem of suppliers.
Master Builders Queensland surveyed its members on material delays and cost increases which found builders reporting significant material delays of up to a month on goods including timber, steel, windows, doors, roof tiles, bricks, electrical equipment and waterproofing insulation.
These are all materials that are commonly used for body corporate repairs.
And even if you can get materials on time and at a reasonable price, there are issues with finding qualified persons to do the work.
As these trends are set to continue for many years to come body corporate committees in QLD will need to adapt and employ strategies that account for rising construction and maintenance costs.
A rise in construction cost for both materials and labour will affect your building’s insurance valuation and Strata committees would be wise to instruct a new Building Insurance Valuation to ensure that their schemes are not underinsured.
Tips for Body Corporate Committees
- Source alternate tradespersons – While Stratacare recommends tried and trusted tradespeople for our clients, due to the QLD shortage on tradespeople and delays in getting jobs done, if you have alternative tradespeople that you trust to do the work, consider engaging their services as an alternative to streamline your claims/repairs.
- Minimise the need to get extra quotes – By law, quotes are required except in exceptional circumstances. Getting multiple quotes is good practice, however – in these times you may want to reconsider the necessity of gathering up additional quotes when you have perfectly reasonable options on the table
- Get organised and book works early – There can be a tendency in strata for allowing the final OK to commission works to be delayed for months while people wait for meetings or look at alternatives. With rising construction costs and tradies booked out these delays could cost you dearly. If you have a quote from a contractor that you think is acceptable, maybe just accept it as you may be better off agreeing to book the works now rather than wait.
- Stick with reliable contractors – If you have reliable contactors that you have dealt with for years, work closely with them and make sure you get their advice and opinions. Keep them invested in doing good works for your scheme rather than somebody else.
- Prioritise essential works – Consider what jobs actually need to be done and which can be delayed.
- Getting a new insurance valuation – Rising construction costs affect how much it will cost to replace your building. Strata committees would be wise to instruct a new Building Insurance Valuation to ensure that their schemes are not underinsured.
- Start the clean-up process – If required due to safety concerns, to reduce further damage or to recover, you can start the clean-up process before an insurance company assesses the damage. This is particularly important where floodwaters have inundated your property to prevent further costs developing from mould build up. If you have already started the clean-up process ensure that you have taken photos of any damaged property as this will form evidence of the damage for the insurance company in a claim.
- Avoid unnecessary back and forth – Support all costs you wish to claim with appropriate documentation such as receipts and quotations.
Escalating Insurance Premiums and Increased Cost of Living – Don’t Be Caught Underinsured!
The financial pressure of escalating insurance premiums, combined with the cost of living, may tempt lot owners to cut back on insurance costs, leaving them underinsured and in some instances, even uninsured despite the ongoing threat of extreme weather events.
All indications from climate scientists and weather experts (including insurance firms) is that the frequency of catastrophic weather events like the February/March floods will only increase over-time, making it vital that your property is properly insured to its full replacement value that takes into account rising construction and material costs.
For Queenslanders living in strata communities, now is a good time to review your insurance policies.
Remember to stay organised, send all relevant documents when required, and if at any point you are unsure if the damage is covered by the Body Corporate or your personal contents policy, you can contact us.
To learn more about body corporate insurance check out some of our other blog articles: