Suncorp hosts first community forum in storm-hit Berowra


News

Suncorp hosted dozens of customers affected by the December hail storms at the insurer’s first community forum, held in Berowra on Sydney’s Upper North Shore last night. 

Suncorp invited customers in the hard-hit area to the forum to provide an update on progress, address any queries or concerns, as well as allow customers to discuss their claims with client managers face-to-face.

Berowra was one of the worst affected communities in the hail storm that hit New South Wales on 21 December 2018. It was the worst hail storm in 20 years with more than 99,630 claims lodged across the industry. 

Suncorp Insurance CEO Gary Dransfield said this was an important step to better meet community expectations.

“We know we need to communicate better and be more transparent about how we respond to natural disasters, so we took the initiative to invite customers to the forum and give them the opportunity to speak directly with us.

Gary Dransfield, Suncorp Insurance CEO

“We had more than 60 customers attend this forum and based on the positive feedback last night, we’re already looking at when we can come back to meet with more of our customers in the area,” he said. 

Mr Dransfield also said Suncorp was aiming to have 80 per cent of all roof repairs connected to the New South Wales hail storms commenced by the end of April and 80 per cent of cars scheduled for repair out of this event to be completed by the end of July. 

“We continually look to improve how we respond to natural catastrophes and some new initiatives have meant we’ve been able to make good progress in supporting our customers through this disaster. 

“Our zero touch digital claims lodgement process allowed people with relatively simple claims to complete lodgements quickly, which also alleviated some of the loads on our contact centres. 

“Our hail assessment centres were up and running within days and at their peak, were assessing more than 1,000 cars a day, which has expedited that process. 

“The introduction of a case management approach means customers have a dedicated client manager supporting them through the claims process from start to finish, and further improve our communication and transparency.”

Mr Dransfield said they had heard of some instances where unauthorised tradespeople had approached affected customers in a bid to fraudulently pick up business or take cash payments. 

“While we’ve seen this behaviour in previous events, particularly hail storms, we’re noticing these scammers becoming more sophisticated in their approach. Some are going so far as replicating vehicle signage to impersonate authorised builders.” 

He said Suncorp supported the Insurance Council’s advice to customers to ensure they carefully consider the use of claims advisors or advocates.

“Our systems are designed for customers to work with us directly, but they can choose to use external advisers, such as claims advocates, at any time. Our experience is there are two types of advocates – the ones that work in the best interest of the customer and those that are leveraging already vulnerable customers for their own commercial gain. 

“Given this, it is very important that customers are aware of the risks associated with engaging a third party that proactively approaches them, as there will be a cost and it is not covered by the policy,” he said. 

Suncorp will host more community forums in the coming months.

Suncorp customers yet to lodge their claim, should do so as soon as possible, either online or over the phone at